CBS News has obtained a detailed analysis of the cost of the Apollo landing missions and the cost estimates NASA and the US military are required to make of the mission.
It reveals that the actual cost of landing the Apollo spacecraft on the moon would have been much lower, and therefore far less costly.
The analysis of NASA’s cost estimates by the Government Accountability Office and the Department of Defense’s Joint Program Office (JPO) shows that the cost to launch the Apollo landers and astronauts from Cape Canaveral, Florida, and land them on the Moon would have averaged between $100 million and $150 million, based on NASA’s initial budget request for the lunar lander program.
The estimate is based on the assumption that all components of the lander and crew capsule were made from space-grade titanium and aluminum.
This is a very high-end estimate and far above the cost for the spacecraft, the analysis shows.
The cost of these components is far more than NASA and JPO are required by law to provide.
The actual costs would have come down considerably, from a high of $150 to $30 million, the report shows.
These costs, which were previously estimated by the military as about $2 billion, are much lower than what the JPO is required to report.
The GAO report, issued Tuesday, is a summary of a two-year GAO study, which looked at the cost-per-hour, or the cost per unit of hardware, for the Apollo missions.
The report shows that at least two of the four Apollo missions would have cost less than $300,000, with the last two missions costing $1.2 billion.
“The report does not address whether the total costs of the missions were less or more than $100 billion,” the GAO said in a statement.
“These cost estimates are based on a wide range of assumptions, and we did not account for any of the many uncertainties inherent in estimating the costs of each mission.
We believe that their results are sound, and the full GAO analysis is available at: http://www.gao.gov/gao/publications/reports/2001/11/10105.pdf The report did not examine the cost associated with the Apollo Lunar Landing Project, or any other missions.
In the past, Congress has been hesitant to allow NASA to estimate costs, especially given the huge cost overruns that occurred in the early 1970s and 1980s.
That reluctance to provide a cost estimate for the space program has resulted in much of the public and Congress spending much of their time focusing on the space shuttle program, the cost overrun and delays that occurred at NASA’s launch site at Kennedy Space Center, Florida.
This report is the first comprehensive review of the NASA lunar landing cost estimates, and provides the first independent accounting of the costs.
The NASA report says that the Apollo lunar landing program was supposed to cost $1,000 billion in the fiscal year 2001, and that the initial budget was $1 billion.
The JPO estimates that it cost between $60 million and 100 million.
The total cost of all the Apollo activities and missions would probably have been even lower, according to the report.
“However, the agency’s fiscal year 2002 budget request, which was approved in March, stated that NASA’s mission to the Moon cost $600 million and that there would be no mission beyond low Earth orbit,” the report says. “
NASA’s budget request to Congress in 2001, as reported in the budget, was $2.6 billion,” says the GAo report.
“However, the agency’s fiscal year 2002 budget request, which was approved in March, stated that NASA’s mission to the Moon cost $600 million and that there would be no mission beyond low Earth orbit,” the report says.
“This difference is due to NASA’s revised FY 2003 budget request of $5 billion, which reduced the total lunar landings program to $600.
This new FY 2003 FY 2018 budget request would have provided for an additional $300 million for the moon landings and an additional one-time $200 million for an international lunar program,” the agency said.
The two NASA agencies that have been responsible for collecting the cost information for the Lunar Program are NASA and NASA Headquarters.
The latter, responsible for providing the lunar missions and missions to the moon, will be releasing its cost estimates next week.
The former, the Lunar Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, which manages the lunar programs, will release its cost data on Wednesday.
“For NASA, the primary objective of its budget request was to ensure that its agency’s human exploration efforts were not adversely impacted by the agency budget,” says a NASA statement.
However, NASA officials have said that it is not possible to estimate the costs associated with any of its human spaceflight activities because it is a classified matter.
The most recent estimates are from the agency, and NASA will release the full report next week, it says.
CBS News’ David M. Rubenstein contributed to this report.