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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Way back in the day (2004), President Bush promised to send people to Mars. NewScientist reported that the cost of the mission was "expected to cost $40 billion to $80 billion". That really seemed like a lot of money.

A year earlier, in 2003, Bush sent his country's soldiers into Iraq. It is believed that as of September 27, 2007, the war in Iraq has cost the USA a whopping 454 Billion dollars! (and here's even a more pessimistic estimate reported at The Boston Globe in 2006)

If the original Mars estimate was accurate, that means that instead of going to Iraq, the USA could have funded somewhere between 5 and 11 independent human missions to Mars! By "independent", I mean Mars mission programs that start from the ground up, and do not leverage each other's technology, research, or manufacturing. In reality, it would be much more likely that technology advances would be shared, as well as NRE costs, lowering the mission costs for all involved. That is, many many more than 11 missions could have been sent.


Maybe if the Bush cabal thought there was oil on Mars they'd have told everybody that's where Saddam was hiding weapons of mass transportation.

Burton MacKenZie www.burtonmackenzie.com

Update: New war cost estimates make it a cost of at least 32 manned trips to Mars. The mind boggles.

21 comments:

jamsgra said...

Just imagine the imense human achievement that would be also.

Imagine the collective pride and passion as brave men and women set off on the most epic, and entrawling mission man has ever attempted.

The whole world looking on in awe and wonder as the real boundries of humanity are tested. A collective joining together to reach out and better outselves.

To become one, stand tall and be proud of what we have achieved.

But no, instead we have...

Eddie said...

that really makes me sad :/

Ian said...

One day we'll be out in the Solar System—but I don't think it will be Americans leading the way.

P.S. Nice to see another Winnipeger blogging!

Juan Salvador said...

Can you see that, that's how you know how the world is now days, because of the effort they spend on wars and bullshit instead off using all that energy and MONEY in a better future for mankind!

Oliver said...

Wow...Not only could all of that money, or even half of it could have been used to further space exploration. It could have been put to use for people that dont have health insurance. It could be used to pay back the endless list of debts we have with other countries. It could have been used to make an effort to not have the USD equalize with the Canadian Dollar for the first time in three decades. In the past, many wars have helped the US economy out of slumps; not this one...Our debt is growing exponentially, and our IOU's are begining to lose their appeal to other countries.

S0048790_historical&contexturalreferencing said...

That 4 trillion spent?
America's actually in debt to China for something like 60% of that.

Shawn said...

How can people be talking about the "cost of the war" in just half a trillion or so thus far when the washington post says that the Federal Governement has paid Blackwater Mercenaries alone about a Trillion already?

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/09/25/AR2007092502675_pf.html

Doesn't add up.

Kyle said...

Winnipeger blogs again! Bush shoulda waged war with Mars. I heard they have WMD's or something.
Smoke terrorists out of caves and such. One nation under god, George, Dick and Bill and Bob and the ghost of Ronald Reagan, and oil companies that own the media.
Nuke Mars!!! Nuke Iran! Nukes are the solution to the problem of the worlds.

Dizzo said...

The state department has paid Blackwater about $1 billion, not $1 trillion, Shawn.

Peter said...

Thanks for the post, but JEEEEEZ, why are you whining about trips to Mars?

IMO, you should be complaining about how that $454 B could have been used right here on planet Earth to help real human beings in really bad situations. Think of how much that money would have helped us fight diseases, hunger, homelessness or provide natural disaster relief or clean up the environment or take out the really evil bastard nepotistic dictators...

Sorry for the rant, but this kind of blogging is getting me down a lot lately. The worst part is that I've been guilty of it myself. Something's got to change. We've got to change.

phil said...

mars dont have any oil to steal!

John said...

Just some notes in the interest of practicality:

The launch window for a mission to mars opens only once every 26 months (2 years!).

The launch window is based on optimizing the flight path to mars. Duration for the optimal flight path: 9 months.

Then 3 months until an optimal flight opens up to return to earth.

Then another 9 month flight back.


But still, that is a princely sum of money. I agree with whomever recommended spending that cash domestically, hopefully on education and/or practical research (practical in the sense of useful, like a cure for cancer :)

valugi said...

I prefer to see Mars virgin. I don't want to imagine that the human civilization on Mars or on other planets will be left to decide for the Bush like people. This will suck! Maybe till we get there will be able to spread a different sort of society.

gerf said...

Great insight.

That money could be better spent in a plethora of other ways, Mars included.

This is a little old, but it's still relevant and it gets the point across well:

http://www.truemajority.org/oreos/

(by the way, I am here via Digg)

burton mackenzie said...

Thanks all for the mutual commiseration regarding the way the wind is blowing, and hi to reddit, digg, del.icio.us, et all.

For those in the hundreds of comments on this that I've read offsite (see above) who think I'm suggesting the USA should be spending 454 Billion Dollars on Mars Exploration, I'm not. I was attempting to measure the amount of American taxpayer dollars on the Iraq war in the context of something for which people might be able to grok. It's like saying that if we divide 454 Billion dollars by a population of ~300 Million inhabitants, the average amount spent personally by each person in the USA on it is about 1500 dollars.

It is simply a translation of units; in this case from "dollars" to "missions to Mars". Google should have this in their unit conversion engine, like they have kilometres per hour to furlongs per fortnight.

All that being said, I'd also love to see a mission to Mars in my lifetime. I don't know about anybody else, but I'd personally cough up $1500 extra in taxes to send 11 Manned Missions to Mars, because that would be pretty damn cool.

Gregory said...

we're also only looking at monetary costs. somehow i don't think we would have lost nearly as many human lives by travelling to mars..

Eoin said...

what are ye complaining about? almost half of you voted for that warlord twice!
fix your fucking country before someone from a country you robbed actually manages to get a nuke onto us soil and flatten it!

Dan said...

Who cares about going to Mars? If I had to decide, safety on our planet vs sending a handful of elite to Mars, it would be safety at home. Space exploration is a complete waste of time.

gerf said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
gerf said...

Dan, are you implying that the US's invasion of Iraq has made "our planet" safer?

Safer for whom?

burton mackenzie said...

Of all the comments on this I've seen around the intertubes, the one that struck me the most was posted by leonidas333on digg.com:

"Gee, we are in such a great moment in the history of civilization, when a handful of elite assholes (bush & Co.) can hijack the entire development of the human evolution. Instead of going out and exploring our wider universe, we have instead decided to stay at home and bomb the shit out of each other.
hurray for humanity, were such clever monkeys.
"

Another related sobering comment from buildmonkey on reddit.com was (in part):

"At some undefined point we will be hit by an asteroid, or there will be a Deccan or Siberian Traps type volcanic eruption and if we are still around at that point we are gone. It may happen next year, it may happen in 20,000 years, but it will happen. ... All civilisations fade or collapse in time and ours will to, if we stay static. .... When our current civilisation collapses there will be no easily available coal, wood, oil, iron ore, copper ore, etc, left to kick start the next round of civilisation, we used them up long ago. Unless of course a percentage of humanity is elsewhere, learning how to use the resources of the solar system."

The Americans sure could have bought a lot of fundamental research towards the latter for a much lower price tag.

It could have turned into a modern day parable where the US Government, instead of grabbing fish from others, figured out how to fish in a different pond... a really really big one.