NASA Admits Failure: About 2/3 of the way down this page, NASAs 2003 budget estimate from the Office of Management and Budget, there is a graph of launch costs per-pound to orbit. Click here . It's a chart that shows three numbers: the cost to orbit of the shuttle, the cost to orbit of "U.S. Commercial Rockets", and the cost to goal for the "Space Launch Initiative". These numbers are: $12000/lb, $6000/lb, and $2000. Source: NASA and FAA.

NASA's own numbers admit the shuttle is obsolete. And it is striking that even with competition from the heavily subsidized shuttle, commercial vendors still have their launch costs down to $6000/lb. Imagine where they would be if NASA had not monopolizing the business for the past 30 years. Shuttles carry payloads up to 25000 kg, or 55000lbs; so they waste up to $330 million per mission.

It's worth remembering here how NASA sold the shuttle to Congress, way back when. Launch costs then, on Saturn V, were about $10000/lb. (Yes, they are actually worse now.) The shuttle was billed as going to cut costs tenfold - to $1000/lb. That was the promise, the bait-and-switch. Now we have the lemon that resulted. 30 years of technical development; computers cost 1/1000 of what they did then; and the shuttle has actually raised costs. The state in action.

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