Promote Innovation • Advance space exploration  Provide objective advice

How much did we really spend to go to the Moon?

The United States spent $20.6 billion preparing to go to the Moon the first time. The actual expeditions to and around the Moon (there were 9) cost $4.6 billion. Accurate accounting helps to establish an appropriate baseline for calculating the cost of future space missions, including a permanent return. 

Read Howard McCurdy's summary of the cost of the Apollo Moon program. 

How much does space exploration cost?

Howard McCurdy and Roger Launius propose a method for assessing the financial burden that space expeditions impose on the national economy.  The method calculates the cost of the program as a proportion of the gross domestic product in the year the expedition is approved.  Excerpted from their new book on NASA Spaceflight: A History of Innovation by Launius and McCurdy, published in late 2017 by Palgrave Macmillan.

What did the space shuttle cost?

The space shuttle program cost $116.1 billion.  That paid for five orbiters, four test flights and 131 orbital missions flown between 1982 and 2011.

Excerpt from the new book by Roger D. Launius and Howard E. McCurdy, NASA Spaceflight: A History of Innovation.  Palgrave Macmillan 2018: 14-16

About Us

Two Pi is a university-based initiative that examines government policies aimed at promoting innovation in space, science and technology.

Two Pi provides information and policy advice through objective analysis and research. These efforts result in the production of publicly-available papers that can be found on the 2Pi web site. The site also features materials that assist in the teaching of science and technology policy.

Contact Us

TwoPi is located in the School of Public Affairs at American University in Washington, D.C.

New Book Underway

Howard McCurdy and Roger Launius are working on a new book tentatively titled The Innovative Society.  It traces the history of government support for science and technology and is designed for use as a textbook in a university course on science and technology policy.  The book draws on material included in four previous studies prepared by the authors.  Links to those studies can be found below.

  • McCurdy, Strategy Planning Study: Government Roles in Creating Markets for New Technologies (2003).

  • Launius, Historical Analogs for the Stimulation of Space Commerce (2014).

  • McCurdy, The Economics of Innovation: Mountaineering and the American Space Program (2013).

  • McCurdy, From Sailing Ships to Space Ships: An Economic History (2017).

This season’s image: A crewmember on the International Space Station took this nighttime photograph of the eastern United States in 2012.  Long Island and New York City are visible on the lower right, with lines of illumination outlining Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, D.C., Richmond and the Hampton Roads region of Virginia to the left.  Clouds obscure some of the interior.

A Science, Technology, and Space Policy Initiative