The Cost of the Final Launch – STS 135


STS-135 Last Shuttle Launch

Image by Robert Scoble via Flickr

Today I witnessed a big moment in American history, world history in fact. I watched the 135th, and the last, launch of the space shuttle Atlantis. It was an amazing sight to see and it made you proud to watch, (even though I am not American) it is a big part of Canadian history too. I held my breath along with millions of others as the shuttle launched into the atmosphere, and felt relief when it didn’t explode into millions of little pieces in front of my children’s eyes. It was grand, to say the least… But I learned a few things today with the help of some inquisitive children…

I learned that to launch each shuttle costs Half a BILLION dollars!!!  HALF-A-BILLION!! Are you kidding me?? I’m sorry but that is a lot of money that would probably be better spent elsewhere! Half a Billion is a big number in itself, made even bigger when you discover that these astronauts are only going to the ‘space station‘ and are only going for “12 DAYS!!” That is an expensive vacation!

Today all the news channels spoke of this last launch and of what it means for NASA and America itself. They asked if it was right for space study to be going off in a different direction…

Well… I would say so!!!

Half a Billion dollars and we have accomplished NOTHING! These space shuttles have made 135 trips to a space station at Half a Billion dollars each… an estimated $196 Billion dollars over the last 40 years. That is a LOT of wasted money!! Especially considering it cost the lives of 14 astronauts. Sure, these shuttles have provided some amazing images, and advances in technology, but when you consider that the original outlook for the program in 1972 was to launch an estimated 50 launches per year, the actual accomplishments don’t really live up to the costs! (or their original plans apparently)

Granted there are accomplishments to be proud of, and those without which we would not function the same today… it is kind of a toss-up in consideration really. Though there have not been advances in many years, and it is clearly time to move on.

I can not get over the Half a Billion dollar price tag for 1 ship to spend 12 days at a space station that they have visited 134 times before… I think if you MUST spend this money on space exploration at least go land on mars, design a ship that goes further faster, or bring back a picture of a little green man. In the very least, for HALF A BILLION DOLLARS, do something that you haven’t done 135 times before!

 

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