The president’s new budget proposes to end NASA’s Constellation program, a Bush initiative intended to put humans back on the moon by 2020. But Obama’s $3.8 trillion budget still goes to the moon figuratively—if you stacked 3.8 trillion one dollar bills, the pile would reach the moon with 20,000 miles to spare!
The president’s proposal to end the Constellation isn’t sitting well with those members of Congress who enjoy large NASA spending in their districts. From the Washington Post:
“The president’s proposed NASA budget begins the death march for the future of U.S. human spaceflight,” Sen. Richard C. Shelby (R-Ala.) said Monday. “If this budget is enacted, NASA will no longer be an agency of innovation and hard science. It will be the agency of pipe dreams and fairy tales.”
Rep. Pete Olson (R-Tex.) said, “This is a crippling blow to America’s human spaceflight program.”
Senator Shelby and Rep. Olson exaggerate – the proposal would only end government human space flight to the moon. Private entrepreneurs are likely to continue pushing into space, especially if we reduced the regulatory and tax burdens.
However, 9 of the 10 projects that have been in the implementation phase for several years experienced cost growth ranging from 8 to 68 percent, and launch delays of 8 to 33 months, in the past 3 years. These 10 projects had average development cost growth of almost $121.1 million—or 18.7 percent—and schedule growth of 15 months, and a total increase in development cost of over $1.2 billion, with over half of this total—or $706.6 million—occurring in the last year.
See this essay for more on cost overruns in government programs.