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feasible near term Venus settlements?
(12-23-2014, 07:28 PM)Rynn Wrote:
(12-23-2014, 12:24 PM)radtech497 Wrote: While the Apollo project cost $25.4 billion (1973) dollars, the earlier Project Horizon was estimated to cost $6 billion (1959) dollars; arguably, Horizon could have provided much more of a return on investment than Apollo did.

I'm always skeptical of claims like this concerning costs of untried space programs. It seems to be taken as gospel that their projected costs are accurate when in reality space programs nearly always run over budget, sometimes so much that they get cancelled.
The original cost estimate for the Apollo Program was $7 billion, so using the same degree of inflation, Horizon might have ended up costing about $21.8 billion; of course, being a military program, getting the necessary funding would have been far easier than for NASA to get funding for Project Apollo, and any additional cost overruns might have been covered by taking funds from other DoD programs (it would be difficult for an outsider to discover the magnitude of any additional overruns, as that information would likely be classified as a matter of national security). The upshot is, while Apollo left behind a half-dozen Descent Modules, various bits of equipment, and six flags (which have since faded due to exposure to solar UV radiation), Horizon would have left behind a functional manned lunar base (with all that implies, such as a continued raison d'etre for maintaining a man-rated Earth-Moon transportation system, much more lunar surface experience, and, possibly, increased interest in researching cheaper/more efficient ways to get to orbit).
Quote:In a similar vein predictions that current or near technology will surffice aren't always right either, it was predicted that a resizable shuttle capable of 60 flights a year was possible with 1970s tech but after decades of trying the space shuttle never achieved anything near its promise. In hindsight it's relatively simple to point out the mistakes made sure, but I have no doubt that untried projects would suffer similar fates.
The oft-quoted prediction that the Shuttle could make up to sixty launches a year comes from when the Shuttle fleet was to have seven vehicles (only five were built) and the design used an aircraft-like manned booster that would return to the launch site after boosting the Shuttle into orbit (a design that also fell victim to the budgetary axe). Even then, sixty launches a year would be near the maximum capability of the system to deliver, but NASA was delivering a sales pitch to Congress.
Quote:As for political advantage whilst that is true I think in most countries it reflects public opinion accurately. Projects like this are hugely expensive and I'd wager that if you asked the majority of people if they'd like tens/hundreds of billions of dollars spent on building a base on Venus or spent on infrastructure, education, healthcare or funding of other sciences most would pick the latter. I certainly would. Space exploration is fascinating and inspiring but it doesn't have a great return on investment. I can't see myself supporting large expenditures towards manned space travel until things planetside are more prosperous and comfortable.
Actually, while most people probably would say they'd rather spend the money on Earthly concerns, it is almost axiomatic that they would still complain if you actually tried to spend the money on those things. If the money were magically to appear as unallocated funds on the budget, you can imagine the scramble as legislators vied with one another to assign them to one or another pet project, and/or to refund the money (or some part of it) to the taxpayers as a way of generating the good will so necessary for their re-election campaigns. If one were to devote tens or hundreds of billions of dollars to infrastructure, education, health care, etc., it would immediately engender two problems: 1) it would set up an expectation that such levels of funding would constitute a "baseline" that future levels would at least match if not exceed, and 2) it would lessen the importance of the lobbyists for those interests (and thus reduce the amounts said lobbyists are willing to pay for "access"). So, expect such a sudden windfall to be spread out among so many programs that there isn't the slightest danger of the money being used for substantial improvements.

"I'd much rather see you on my side, than scattered into... atoms." Ming the Merciless, Ruler of the Universe

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RE: feasible near term Venus settlements? - by radtech497 - 12-23-2014, 09:48 PM

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