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From: Henry Spencer <>
Subject: Re: Mission to Mars in 2015?
Date: Sun, 18 Aug 1996 23:16:19 GMT

In article <4v353f$> fcrary@rintintin.Colorado.EDU (Frank Crary) writes:
>...all "major new technologies" cost $5 billion. Since then,
>Zubrin's taken the fuel production plant to the full-up,
>ground-based test level for all of $160,000. So it looks
>like the current, costing models have some serious flaws.

Indeed so.  I'm told that if you take the specs of an off-the-shelf piece
of lab equipment, the sort of thing that might reasonably equip one of
the space-station lab modules, and run it through the costing models, you
get a number which compares, shall we say, *unfavorably* to the commercial
list price.  There's way too much Business As Usual in those models.

>The $30 billion number doesn't include management and overhead
>costs. For a well-managed program, these shouldn't add more
>than 10-20%...

I ran across an interesting account of cost escalation in an IAF
historical paper a few years ago.  In 1964, the President's Science
Advisor asked NASA for a cost estimate on a manned Mars project to follow
Apollo.  For program start in 1968 and landing in 1982 -- neither a crash
program nor an artificially stretched one -- the technical bottom line was
$32G.  They added $5G for contingencies and sent it to the Administrator. 
He added $13G for "support and administration", and told the PSA $50G. 
*He* told Congress $100G.  The Congressmen told the press $200G.  The
original $37G estimate was sound, including adequate margins; nothing of
importance was added in the growth from $37G to $200G. 
 ...the truly fundamental discoveries seldom       |       Henry Spencer
occur where we have decided to look.  --B. Forman  |

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