10 Most Expensive Space Initiatives



10 Most Expensive Space Initiatives

Ever since the dawn of man, we’ve been looking up into the night’s sky and asking questions, searching for answers and only to find more questions. Humans are relentless, we’ll do whatever it takes to answer these questions, including spending tons and tons and tons of cash to take space exploration to the next level, again and again. And damn it, we’ll do it again if need be.

This is an infographic collection of the 10 most expensive space initiatives ever undertaken. Countries all over the globe have raced against one another to be the first in space, the first to the moon, the first satellite, the first with their own space station and anything else you can think of.

Massive amounts of money have been spent and today, we’re learning to collaborate, work together and seek answers as a team. We’re even learning to split the check, not always evenly, but we won’t mention any names…

Here they are, the 10 Most Expensive Space Initiatives and you’re not going to believe how much money we’ve spent on getting to the heavens.

#10 – Curiosity Mars Rover: $2.5 Billion

  • The Curiosity Rover arrived on Mars August 6, 2012, after a 254 day trip to its destination at Gale Crater on Mars. The budget was initially proposed at $650 million, the final bill ended up being closer to $2.5 billion.

#9 – Cassini–Huygens: $3.26 Billion

  • Cassini–Huygens was sent to explore Saturn, as well as its moon, Titan. The interplanetary voyage took 2,451 days and on Christmas day of 2004 Huygens separated from Cassini and began its 3 week trip to Titan. This project was funded by NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency.

#8 – Mir Space Station: $4.2 Billion

  • Mir was a low Earth orbit Space Station, owned and operated by the Soviet Union and later by the Russian Federal Space Agency. It was in orbit from 1984 to 2001, later succeeded by the International Space Station. Orbiting at 17,885 miles per hour, it completed 15.7 orbits per day and a total of 86,331 orbits.

#7 – GLONASS: $4.7 Billion

  • GLONASS, Global Navigation Satellite System, is a collection of 24 satellites operated by the Russian Aerospace Defense Forces. First developed in 1976, the project kicked off in 1982 and in 2010 received over 33% of the Russian Federal Space Agency’s budget.

#6 – Galileo Satellite Navigation System: $6.3 Billion

  • The Galileo is the European Union’s answer to Russia’s GLONASS and the American’s GPS. The first satellites launched in 2011, with additional satellites launching in the years after. All 24 operating and 6 spare satellites are expected to be completed by 2020.

#5 – James Webb Space Telescope: $8.8 Billion

  • This joint initiative between NASA, the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency is expected to launch in October of 2018. This telescope will replace the Hubble and Spitzer Telescopes, with the objective of observing the most distant objects in the Universe.

#4 – Global Positioning System: $12 Billion

  • The United States launched the Global Positioning System back in 1973. Tasked with the objective of replacing the old and outdated terrestrial navigation systems with a space-based one. Since 1978 there have been a total of 65 satellites launched with 31 actively in orbit. It currently costs over $750 million per year to maintain this system.

#3 – Project Apollo Space Program: $25.4 Billion

  • Probably the most legendary of all space initiatives, the Apollo Space Program was the first mission to successfully land humans on the Moon. Congress received a $25.4 billion invoice back in 1973 when the program completed. Inflation adjusted, that’d be the equivalent to $140,334,701,176 in 2015 dollars, with 4.15% annual inflation.

#2 – International Space Station: $160 Billion

  • The ISS is a low Earth orbit habitable artificial satellite. Having launched in 1998, it’s the largest artificial object in orbit and can be seen with the naked eye. It’s hailed as the most expensive single project and object ever constructed in all of human history. It continues to increase in costs as more components are added. To date, NASA: $59 billion, Russian Federal Space Agency: $12 billion, European Space Agency and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency: $5 billion each, Canadian Space Agency: $2 billion and 36 shuttle construction flights at $1.4 billion each: $50.4 billion.

#1 – NASA Space Shuttle Program: $209 Billion

  • The NASA operated reusable low Earth orbital spacecraft program first started testing flights in 1981. The program flew 135 missions between 1981 and 2011, when the Space Shuttle program was retired on July 21, 2011.

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