Space Station Boondoggle

By 2002, the space station, budgeted at $8 billion when it was first mooted in 1984, was expected to cost some $100 billion to complete (about a decade late). NASA, led by Daniel Goldin, had long sought to justify the massive expense by alluding to the scientific experiments which would be conducted on board.

Many science payloads were certainly carried to the station in its early years. However, though it was technically docked to the station while research was carried out, the experiments themselves were usually done... on the space shuttle!

[The shuttle was also a budgetary fiasco. Accidents aside, the launch costs rose from initial estimates of $5 to $14 million each to between $400 and $500 million. "On top of that, there remains the question of whether any of the science will be worthwhile," The Economist noted. "Except for research directed at making manned space-flight easier (a pretty circular argument for justifying human-conducted experiments in space), it is hard to see the case for any human experimenters in space at all." ("NASA," New Yorker financial columnist James Surowiecki once remarked, "claims that the lunar expeditions gave us the cordless drill; what a lot of trouble to go through to improve upon the handyman special.")]

["The bottled water alone that crews use aboard the space station costs taxpayers almost half a million dollars a day."]

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