Enlarge / NASA’s Journey to Mars has been long on hype, short on reality. (credit: NASA)
NASA has been talking about its “Journey to Mars” for the better part of this decade now, along with its plans to send humans to the Martian system in the 2030s. One thing the space agency hasn’t done, however, is talk too much about costs.

From experience, the agency has learned the woes of giving Congress “sticker shock” when it comes to exploration programs.
However, a new report by NASA’s inspector general chastises the agency for not doing so earlier. “Such estimates would help inform other decision makers and stakeholders in the Administration, Congress, and research and business communities of the magnitude of the sustained investment required to make human exploration of Mars a reality by the late 2030s or early 2040s,” the report states.

The report also attempts to provide such a cost estimate based on an updated version of a study done by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

This analysis budgeted for a crewed landing on the Martian moon Phobos in 2033, a one-month Mars surface stay in 2037, and one-year surface stays in 2041 and 2046.

The updated cost: $450 billion over the next three decades.
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