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NASA thinks it will cost $18 billion to complete and launch in 2017 one test flight of the Congressionally-designed Space Launch System, the program-formerly-called-Constellation.
This is madness. One flight, unmanned, in seven years? No sane customer would ever buy such a product, especially when there are now a number of cheaper competitors who will likely be flying manned in less time.
Note also that even if NASA’s figures are exaggerated, which I am sure some Senators and Congressmen will claim, I would bet that they are not that far off, based on the space agency’s fixed labor costs and past history.