NASA’s Most Expensive Programs

Wondering which NASA programs are the most expensive? Check out the list of most expensive NASA programs and find out how much each one costs.


It was late at night on November 23, 2021, and you looked up at the sky to see something. At 10:20 p.m., NASA kicked off the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission. After taking off a Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California, the spacecraft began a planetary defense test to travel millions of miles. Crashing into an asteroid. Cost: 308 million dollars! Its sole purpose was to deliberately destroy this craft: to see if it could alter the asteroid’s orbit. (Can’t we get Bruce Willis and crew to take it down?)

On October 1, 1958, NASA began operations. The administration’s goals from the outset were grand:

  • Expanding people’s knowledge of space.
  • Leading the world in space-related technological innovation.
  • Developing vehicles that could carry both equipment and creatures into play.
  • Achieving the most fantastic thing.

Collaboration with international space agencies for Scientific Advancement is possible.

NASA has accomplished each of these goals over the past 60 years, and they seek solutions to some of science’s most pressing questions as it adapts to a changing world. But at What Cost?

This list will look at some of the most expensive programs NASA has ever built. While it’s easy to pick a favorite from among NASA’s many accomplishments, the price tag can make you wonder if the expense is worth it.

Galileo, Estimated Cost: $1.6 billion

Named after the great Italian scientist, Galileo began his journey to the giant planet in the Solar System in 1989. In December 1995, it evolved the first spacecraft to orbit the planet Jupiter. . While the world itself is fascinating (Galileo also observed the spreading impact of Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9), important information has been gathered about its moons. One of them, Europa, is one of the candidates for life in our solar system, with a sea of ​​water hidden behind an icy crust.

Unfortunately, Galileo’s fascinating journey could not go on forever and, like most extraordinary things, had to come to an end. Galileo ended by launching into Jupiter’s atmosphere after nearly eight years in orbit to prevent Jupiter’s moons from being contaminated with bacteria that might have flown away from Earth.

Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer, Gauged cost: $2 Billion

The AMS-02 or Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer is a highly complex, practical instrument found aboard the International Space Station – delivered there in 2011 by the Space Shuttle Endeavor. The AMS-02 Ting, created by particle physicist and Nobel laureate Samuel, is as advanced as anything you’d find in a particle accelerator on Earth. It is designed to detect antimatter and find data that could help solve the dark matter puzzle.

AMS-02 has collected data from more than 175 billion cosmic ray events during its lifetime and is still ongoing, despite its planned life span of three years. In the quest to better understand our world, numerous experiments have shown that antimatter is both antiproton and positron. The antiproton is the antimatter complement of the proton, while the positron is the antimatter part of the electron. The researchers found that high-energy positrons originating from various astronomical sources, such as cosmic-ray collisions and dark matter, as opposed to high-energy electrons, provide insight. about the origin of these seeds. 

Hubble Space Telescope, gauged cost: $2.5 billion

The HST, called behind Edwin Hubble, one of the most brilliant astronomers of the twentieth century, got off to a rough start after being put into orbit with a quality loss. The image it captures. The wrong estimate is minimal (above the limit of a micrometer, or about 1/5th the width of a human hair). However, it was ascertained to be a disaster for the fragile piece of technology. As a result, NASA had to send astronauts to correct the defect by placing microscopic mirrors in Hubble’s optical field. Then Hubble started working without hesitation, and over the next two decades, the telescope provided us with some of the most astonishing images of our universe ever.

Hubble probes the universe 24 hours a day, seven days a week. That means it has seen some spectacular cosmic phenomena every day of the year – including your birthday – for the past 31 years. If you haven’t seen a picture of your date of birth on NASA’s website, we strongly recommend that you do so, as it will help keep your eyes open. [3]

Curiosity, Estimated Cost: $2.5 Billion

Curiosity is undoubtedly the most advanced probe ever to visit our neighboring planet Mars, although it is not the first. At any time of day, you can see the current terrain that Curiosity is surveying and the weather it is experiencing, which is incredible. Curiosity aims to learn more about the planet’s geology and climate to address one of astronomy’s most important questions: Is Mars suitable for human life? And if not, was it appropriate at some point in our past?

Up to this point, the response to the first question has remained inconclusive, while the answer to the second question seems inconclusive. Yet, the notion that a high-tech robot is presently scouring the terrain and collecting data about other worlds is, in our view, enough to justify the $2.5 billion price tag.

Cassini-Huygens spacecraft, estimated cost: $3.26 billion

NASA launched the Cassini-Huygens assignment in 1997 to explore Saturn, the most spectacular gas giant in our planetary system. The spacecraft is named after Italian and Dutch astronomers Giovanni Cassini and Christian Huygens. After a seven-year journey, the Cassini spacecraft was launched into orbit above Saturn and gathered necessary information regarding the planet’s rings, satellites, and aura.

Cassini’s passenger, the European Space Agency’s Huygens search, separated from the main spacecraft on Christmas Day 2004 and successfully landed on Titan, one of Saturn’s moons. This is the first landing in the outer solar system and the first to land on a moon that is not ours. Cassini ran out of energy after 20 years in space. NASA has sent spacecraft on a daring final mission into Saturn’s atmosphere to protect the moons with conditions conducive to life. On September 15, 2017, Cassini plunged into Saturn’s atmosphere after cutting about two dozen wedges between the planet and its icy rings, bringing research data to the fore. [5]

Global Positioning Systems, Estimated Cost: $12 Billion

The United States Air Force works on the Global Positioning System (GPS), a space-based radio navigation system controlled by the United States government. It can determine any three-dimensional location worldwide for meter-level accuracy and 10 nanosecond reliability — 24 hours a day, seven days a week. GPS comprises three segments: the control segment, the spatial segment, and the user segment. NASA’s commitment to leading the future in scientific discovery, aeronautical research, and space exploration require the active development and implementation of various GPS applications to enable spacecraft to fly autonomously. Higher master and more sophisticated Earth tracking applications.

The origins of GPS can be traced back to the days of Sputnik, when researchers discovered a way to track satellites using changes in their radio signals, known as the “Doppler effect.” The Global Positioning System space segment currently includes more than 30 fully functional satellites, each equipped with a redundant atomic clock and a 24/7 monitoring ground control network.

SLS and Orion, gauged cost: $23 billion

SLS, NASA’s Space Launch System, is a super-heavy propulsion system developed by NASA to lay the groundwork for human space exploration beyond our solar system. SLS is the only rocket capable of dispatching the Orion spacecraft to the Moon in a single mission, complete with cargo and astronauts. It is scheduled to pitch in early 2022 – present.

NASA will use a structure known as Block 1 to launch Artemis I, the first joint flight of SLS and Orion. The maximum thrust of the SLS will be 8.8 million pounds, 15% more than the Saturn V rocket. For Artemis I, the Block 1 arrangement will send a crewless Orion spacecraft 40,000 years ahead of the Moon. Miles (280,000 miles from Earth). Before the NASA crew takes off on a flight, engineers will monitor and modify the operation of the integrated systems of SLS, Orion, and its Exploration Ground System. If all goes well, the Artemis II mission will fly to bring astronauts to lunar orbit, paving the way for the Artemis III mission to send astronauts to the Moon in 2024.

Apollo Space Program, Gauged cost: $110 Billion

The Apollo program began in the 1960s, around the same time as humanity’s first flight. (Link 16) NASA built the Apollo Command Module specifically for this program. It is a capsule that can hold three astronauts. Astronauts journeyed to and from the Moon in the Command Module. It’s much larger than the Mercury and Gemini spacecraft, and the astronauts inside have plenty of room to move around – based on the concept of “many” since the crew space is about the size of a car.

The Lunar Module, a separate spacecraft, was used to land on the Moon. This vehicle carries astronauts from lunar orbit to the surface of the Moon and back to orbit. The lunar module itself can only have two astronauts. Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong became the first humans to walk on the Moon during the Apollo 11 mission in July 1969, fulfilling President John F. Kennedy’s goal of sending a crew to a satellite. Nature of the Earth and return safely. Perhaps the most striking achievement in history by the decade’s end, the Apollo mission carried 24 people to the Moon (12 on the surface!) and was the most ambitious mission ever.

International space stations, estimated cost: 150 billion USD

The International Space Station is a technological wonder and a symbol of what people from many different countries can do working together. The International Space Station (ISS) is the most extensive manufactured object in space (if conditions are right, it can even be seen with the naked eye!) This is a way to conduct science experiments. And study the effects of long periods in space on humans under unique conditions.

Russia launched the first component of the International Space Station into orbit in November 1998. A Russian missile launches the Russian Zaria control module. Two weeks later, the Space Shuttle Endeavor carrying the US Unity node made contact with Zaria in orbit. The crew attached the Zarya module to the Agreement node. More pieces were counted to the station over the next two years to make it habitable for our astronauts. The first crewed helicopter set off for the International Space Station on November 2, 2000, and astronauts from countries around the world called it home for a limited time.

Space Shuttle Program: $209 billion

In the 1970s, the Space Shuttle program led to the world’s first orbital spacecraft that could be reused (instead of rockets, which were used only once and were discarded after each launch). ). It consisted of an external tank, two external rockets or boosters, and the famous orbital vehicle, one of the most renowned engineering feats ever built.

Five orbiters were built during the three decades of the project: Atlantis, Endeavor, Discovery, Challenger, and Columbia. Unfortunately, the last two were destroyed during the operation – the only major accident in the mission’s other successful streak.

The Space Shuttle program cost $196 to $209 billion (official NASA estimate) and had 135 launches, costing more than $1.5 billion per launch. The Space Shuttle program was succeeded by the SLS (Space Launch System) just two months after the program’s final mission in July 2011.