Going to the moon?

NASA logo

For the modest price of $1,500,000,000 (that’s $1.5 billion dollars), you too could set foot on the moon.

Although the idea is exciting to those looking forward to a space civilization, essentially all private programs attempting to launch into full orbit (rather than low earth orbit) have failed entirely. Interestingly, in private enterprise, the success of space programs will depend entirely on how well its massive costs can be offset by firms, individuals, and other entities stepping into unknown territory.

Forgetting the new types of specially-developed materials and tech systems concocted by teams of engineers to solve various problems, even some simple consumer advances are available today. The Coalition for Space exploration lists further concrete benefits, but the highlights listed are

  • Water-filtration systems
  • Ultra-small electronic circuits that enhance computers to countless medical advances, such as bone-density measurement technology and miniaturized heart pumps
  • Plastic-like metals used in jewelry and sporting goods
  • Aviation safety systems for pilots
  • Intelligent ovens that allow you to begin dinner before you even get home, and
  • LASIK surgery

While scientific discovery as a result of space exploration in America was almost exclusively government-funded for the sake of politics and curiosity, many of the knowledge advances from research in space (and especially from focused technology development for space) were unexpected. While the citizens of an entire continent may be able to risk pennies a day for potential societal benefits in biology (and later, medicine and healthcare) and technology, the immense capital costs and unknown rewards for individual firms are prohibitive. Contributions by individuals extend so far as their personal interests.

NASA’s spending was approximately 0.51% of the U.S. budget in 2010.