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  Mercury - Gemini - Apollo
  The cost to fly cancelled Apollo 18, Apollo 19

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Author Topic:   The cost to fly cancelled Apollo 18, Apollo 19
BBlatcher
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Posts: 47
From: Savannah, GA, USA
Registered: Aug 2011

posted 05-20-2012 08:14 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for BBlatcher     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
How much would it have cost to fly Apollo 18 and 19?

Most of the hardware was already built or partially constructed. Presumably all that would have mattered was spending money on the actual flight.

Anyone know how much that would have been? Bonus points if there's a breakdown on the figures. Thanks.

APG85
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posted 05-20-2012 11:07 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for APG85     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Looking back, I've always thought it was a shame those missions weren't flown. The common thought is that they were cut for budjet reasons but from what I've read, it had as much to due with NASA leadership not wanting to risk anymore crews on more landings. Didn't Dr. Gilruth advocate for cancelling those missions?

alanh_7
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From: Ajax, Ontario, Canada
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posted 05-21-2012 07:04 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for alanh_7   Click Here to Email alanh_7     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I always felt it was a shame they did not fly them as well. But at least some of the hardware was re-directed to Skylab I think so something good did come out of it.

mach3valkyrie
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From: Albany, Oregon USA
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posted 05-21-2012 09:26 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for mach3valkyrie   Click Here to Email mach3valkyrie     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The stated cost of the Apollo 15 mission at the time of the flight was $445 million. This was from Walter Cronkite during the CBS coverage of the launch. Presumably, Apollos 18 and 19 would have been between $450M and $500M by the time they flew.

I, too, would rather see mockups lying on their side for people to look at and have actual flight hardware flown on those missions. Awfully expensive displays.

Besides, there's no such thing as too many Saturn V launches!

Michael Davis
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From: Houston, Texas
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posted 05-21-2012 11:00 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Michael Davis   Click Here to Email Michael Davis     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The estimated cost savings of canceling Apollo 18 and 19 was $42 Million. I always thought the cancellations had more to do with avoiding an accident after what was already a successful project. It is clear that NASA leadership felt they had pressed their luck far enough.

garymilgrom
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From: Atlanta, GA, USA
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posted 05-21-2012 11:08 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for garymilgrom   Click Here to Email garymilgrom     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Michael Davis hits the nail on the head. The missions were cancelled as much out of safety concerns as the money.

There were some NASA managers who wanted to cancel the program after Apollo 11's success. After all, we had beat the Russians and met Kennedy's deadline. There were more who wanted to cancel after Apollo 13's close call.

I think we were lucky to have leadership at NASA who did not follow these ideas and instead flew out as much of the program as possible, including a scientist on the last mission.

BBlatcher
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From: Savannah, GA, USA
Registered: Aug 2011

posted 05-21-2012 12:41 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for BBlatcher     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Are there any cites for the monetary figure?

I realize canceling the last missions wasn't just about money, but for this question, I am interested how much NASA supposedly saved.

The number $450 million sounds familiar for open, I assume that's 21st century dollars. And it wasn't so much that the money wasn't spent but rather it was directed to other programs, i.e. the shuttle? So where does the 42 million figure come in?

Flying the last three missions, especially Apollo 20 would have been amazing. But even if 20 had to be canceled for to launch skylab, 18 and 19 would have been nice.

Fra Mauro
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From: Maspeth, NY
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posted 05-21-2012 12:48 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Fra Mauro   Click Here to Email Fra Mauro     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I have heard numerous times that the greatest cost for 18 and 19 was building the flight hardware, not the actual missions. One more factor should be considered — an administration that openly stated that manned spaceflight was no longer a national priority.

APG85
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posted 05-21-2012 06:34 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for APG85     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I always felt bad for Dick Gordon and Joe Engle to have gotten so close to a landing mission. Stu Roosa seemed particularly bitter in a documentary I saw one time ("We just quit")...

Spacefest
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From: Tucson, AZ USA
Registered: Jan 2009

posted 05-21-2012 10:06 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Spacefest   Click Here to Email Spacefest     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
According to John Young and Jim McDivitt, the Apollo missions were cancelled primarily because of upper management cold feet.

moorouge
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From: U.K.
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posted 05-22-2012 02:15 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for moorouge   Click Here to Email moorouge     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
When discussing this, let's not make the common mistake in thinking that all the dollars mentioned disappeared skywards on a tail of flame. They didn't.

Something like 95% of the money stayed firmly on the ground in paying for services and wages amongst other things.

Whatever the reasoning behind the cancellation of the last three Apollo missions, the savings made were 'paper' numbers, allowing NASA to redirect this 'ground money' into other areas where it bought fresh services and paid other wages. [.. or not as the case may be!]

Delta7
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From: Ossian IN USA
Registered: Oct 2007

posted 05-22-2012 08:55 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Delta7   Click Here to Email Delta7     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by APG85:
I always felt bad for Dick Gordon and Joe Engle to have gotten so close to a landing mission. Stu Roosa seemed particularly bitter in a documentary I saw one time ("We just quit")...
Not to mention Fred Haise, who lost his second chance at a lunar landing (fourth if you count his stints on the Apollo 11 and 16 backup crews).

Jay Chladek
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From: Bellevue, NE, USA
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posted 05-22-2012 10:20 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jay Chladek   Click Here to Email Jay Chladek     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The behind the scenes factors were a little different than what some disgruntled astronauts might have you believe. Yes, there probably was some reluctance on the part of NASA to continue with the Apollo lunar missions, given the risks involved. But NASA was also trying to come up with a robust post-Apollo future as well since that was considered better for long term survival of the agency and its goals in the wake of pressure to cut back.

When the decision was made to cut Apollo 18 and 19, Skylab was also in the budget crosshairs and Deputy administrator George Low (who served interim as Administrator I believe until Fletcher was appointed) wanted to see it continue as he felt it was a better focus for NASA's future at the time. Even after Apollo's 18 and 19 (if they had flown) there were no more lunar missions on the table and the Saturn V production line was being shut down. Members of Congress who were pro-NASA were concerned that NASA didn't really have a mission for after Apollo and Apollo Applications was started up to try and give NASA that post-lunar mission (George Mueller's idea). But when James Webb was the Administrator, he didn't let AAP advance to far as in his mind, Apollo's lunar mission WAS the goal and he treated AAP like something of a hedge fund if problems were encountered with Apollo's lunar program. When Webb retired and Thomas Paine took office, Paine was more receptive to AAP (hence the transfer of a Saturn V to Skylab so they could loft it as a dry workshop).

Even though there were two more Saturns which could have been used for a couple more lunar missions, it still takes manpower to finish and prepare them, not to mention other costs associated with finishing the hardware. All that work takes a lot of money. So, do you use manpower and funds on two expensive launches, or use it to loft a workshop into orbit and fly three crews (simple math, two launches versus four means the KSC and engineering work forces are able to stay employed longer and perhaps would be available for shuttle)? Being in charge of NASA isn't necessarily about just charting the course of the agency for what it should do, but it is also about preserving what you have if you can. ASTP hadn't been approved yet and when ASTP was approved, NASA's ulterior motive was to help keep the engineering teams intact for a little longer to hopefully make that transition between Apollo's hardware and shuttle's a little less traumatic.

Now, going for Skylab doesn't mean that NASA was necessarily turning its back on the moon. There was hope that Apollo Applications could springboard NASA to greater things and perhaps having those two extra Saturn Vs at his disposal could be used to launch perhaps a second and even a third Skylab Orbital Workshop. There was even talk of maybe sending a Skylab on a lunar orbit mapping mission. But ultimately, NASA only launched one Skylab since Paine and Low's enthusiasm wasn't shared by the Nixon White House or Congress. So the focus went towards shuttle after that as a "building block" approach to future NASA programs.

If Apollos 18 and 19 had flown, Apollos 15, 16 and 17 would have been a bit different from what history records. I can't remember what 16 and 17's original mission plans were, but Apollo 15 went from an H mission (was there an "I" mission? Or was that Apollo 14?) to a J mission with the rover and the SIM bay in the CSM. So I don't believe they would have ended up flying five rover missions.

canyon42
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From: Ohio
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posted 05-23-2012 05:03 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for canyon42   Click Here to Email canyon42     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Unless I'm recalling incorrectly, I think the original "I" missions were supposed to be long-term lunar orbital (no landing) missions.

cosmos-walter
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From: Salzburg, Austria
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posted 05-24-2012 01:45 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for cosmos-walter   Click Here to Email cosmos-walter     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
As far as I remember, between Apollo 16 and Apollo 17 solar flares occurred which lead to huge raise of cosmic radiation. If
astronauts were outside van Allen belt they would have been seriously hurt or perhaps even killed. This probably was the reason, why no manned lunar or Mars missions were flown after Apollo 17.

Fra Mauro
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From: Maspeth, NY
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posted 05-24-2012 04:32 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Fra Mauro   Click Here to Email Fra Mauro     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I never heard of solar radiation as a specific reason for ending lunar exploration. That could be one of the factors that NASA management considered when they thought that continuing the program was pushing their luck.

MattJL
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From: New Jersey, US
Registered: May 2012

posted 05-24-2012 06:19 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for MattJL     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I wonder if solar maximum was pre-destined to cut off the Apollo program, then.

Jay Chladek
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From: Bellevue, NE, USA
Registered: Aug 2007

posted 05-29-2012 01:03 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jay Chladek   Click Here to Email Jay Chladek     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by MattJL:
I wonder if solar maximum was pre-destined to cut off the Apollo program, then.

I know it was sort of a factor in determining when to do the missions back in the early 1960s based on the relatively little amount of solar observation data NASA had to work with in the early 1960s. But I don't believe it was a factor in stopping the missions as by the time the lunar flights were going, NASA had a bit more data on the sun. Funding was more of the driving factor here.

Solar observation was a big key in flying Skylab due to the instruments in the ATM being trained on the sun for as long as they were able. Prior to that point, there hadn't been anything similar flying. With the delays in getting the workshop to fly, there were some concerns that they would miss a targeted forcast for a period of peak solar activity. But even during what was predicted to be a time of low solar activity turned out to be a VERY active phase for the sun. This in tern is one of the reasons why Skylab returned to Earth when it did as the forecasted projections of its orbital decay were wrong thanks to inaccurate predictions about the sun's active period.

ilbasso
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From: Greensboro, NC USA
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posted 05-29-2012 02:23 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ilbasso   Click Here to Email ilbasso     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
James Mitchener's "Space" featured an Apollo landing on the far side of the Moon. The astronauts were killed by a solar flare during a moonwalk.

Blackarrow
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From: Belfast, United Kingdom
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posted 05-30-2012 06:07 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Blackarrow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It's a long time since I read the book, but I thought the two moonwalkers died when their lunar module crashed back onto the moon shortly after liftoff.

Apollo Redux
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From: Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Registered: Sep 2006

posted 05-30-2012 09:57 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Apollo Redux   Click Here to Email Apollo Redux     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Yes, but it was a consequence of the astronauts being overcome by the radiation exposure, that they suffered when they could not get back to the LM in time.

They were out on an EVA, and mission control could not warn them in time because of spotty communications.

All times are CT (US)

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