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BBC – Future – Apollo in 50 figures: the cost



25 billion euros: total cost of the Apollo program, in US dollars

The president who pledged to put a man on the moon by the end of the decade was not thrilled by the exploration of space.

"I'm not very interested in space," said John F. Kennedy to NASA's chief executive, James Webb, at a private meeting at the White House in 1962. "I think that Is good, I think we should know, we are willing to spend reasonable amounts, but we are talking about these fantastic expenses that are destroying our budget. "

The conversation, published by the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library, reveals the president's true motives: beating the Soviet Union.

"In my opinion, doing it at this time, it's because we hope to beat them," he explains, "and demonstrate that, by falling behind, as we did after a few years, by God, we have passed them.

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But the cost of winning the race in the space would be huge.

The estimated total cost of the Apollo program is about $ 25 billion, which is $ 175 billion (£ 140 billion) today. In 1965, NASA funding was about 5% of public expenditure, which now makes it one-tenth.

These billions paid for the rockets, spacecraft, computers, ground control and the 400,000 people needed to put 12 men on the moon.

34: Percentage of Public Approval of Moon Missions in 1967

Was the $ 25 billion spent on putting men on the moon well spent? Not according to American taxpayers in 1967.

The polls of the time, compiled by Roger Launius of the National Air and Space Museum of Washington DC and published in the journal Space Policy, suggest that the American public was not convinced that space was a national priority.

Even in 1961, at the height of fears of Soviet domination in space, people were – at best – ambivalent about funding Apollo.

The June polls of that year show an even split between those who favor government funding for "moon trips" and those who are against. Following the fire of Apollo 1 in January 1967, which killed three astronauts on the launch pad, more than half of those interviewed were opposed to the missions.

It was only after the landing of the Apollo 11 Moon in 1969 that the project enjoyed wide support. Nine months later, after the Apollo 13 disaster, mission support dropped again.

It is a myth to say that the Apollo missions were a large national enterprise with universal support.

When Gene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt walk on the moon during the Apollo 17, nearly 60% of the American public think that the country spends too much space. At this stage, however, space budgets have already been reduced and new lunar missions canceled.

It is a myth to say that the Apollo missions were a large national enterprise with universal support. If we believe the polls, most Americans would rather see the money spent elsewhere.

100,000: Cost of an Apollo Spacesuit, in US Dollars

Diving suits designed to walk on the moon had to be strong, strong and solid. It is not surprising that NASA ordered them from a brass manufacturer – the International Latex Corporation.

Each made-to-measure piece of clothing was made of several layers of plastic fibers, rubber and wire, all covered with teflon-coated fabric, sewn by hand by a team of seamstresses.

The Apollo suit had a separate backpack containing life support systems, making it a truly autonomous spaceship. With flexible joints giving astronauts good freedom of movement, this was a significant advance over previous designs developed for the previous NASA Gemini program.

"The Gemini combination was really a problem and, without a doubt, the real limitation of what we could do outside the Space Shuttle, "says Rusty Schweickart, Apollo 9 astronaut.

On a spacewalk in March 1969, Schweikart became the first person to test the new equipment, exiting his Apollo spacecraft in orbit around the Earth.

My friends would have to run to the surface of the moon and they could not drag a heavy umbilical on the lunar surface – Rusty Schweickart

"It really made me independent of the spaceship. I had no umbilical with the command service module, I only had a tie to prevent it from drifting, "he says.

"My friends would have to run to the surface of the moon and they could not drag a heavy umbilical on the lunar surface, so we had to have this independent backpack."

For subsequent Apollo missions, the space suit has been improved to improve flexibility and allow astronauts to sit in the lunar rover.

388 million euros: cost of building lunar relays, in US dollars

Before the launch of Apollo 11 on the Moon, President Richard Nixon had prepared two speeches – one for success and another for the case where astronauts would be stranded.

"Fate has ordered that the men who went to explore the Moon on the Moon remain at peace on the moon," said the speech. "These brave men, Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin, know that there is no hope of recovery, but they also know that there is hope for" humanity in their sacrifice. "

Nobody had ever built a vehicle designed to land two people safely on another world and, most importantly, bring them home. The lunar module with its fragile frame, thin walls and thin legs could only work in space.

The landing gear consisted of two sections or stages, a descent stage with landing areas and a single-engine ascent to bring the astronauts back to the mother ship in lunar orbit. But if the single climb engine broke down, there was no way to get the crew back home.

If it did not work, you're done – Gerry Griffin

"It was one of the rare failures in one point in the Apollo program," says Flight Director Gerry Griffin. "The engine of the lunar module had to work – there was only an engine bell and a blender where all that booster was coming into place – if it did not work, you're done."

NASA signed a contract with Grumman for the construction of the landing gear for a total cost of $ 388 million. But the construction was fraught with delays and the first unmanned launch took place only in January 1968.

In the space of one year, Apollo 9 astronauts Jim McDivitt and Rusty Schweikart put the aircraft in the Earth 's orbit. Then, at Apollo 10, Tom Stafford and Gene Cernan brought the lander within 14.2 km of the lunar surface.

When they returned to the control module, they had serious problems.

Cernan and Stafford prepared a series of switches to align the navigation system and thus separated the upper floor from the descent floor. But one of the switches was in the wrong position and when they turned on the engine, the spacecraft completely degenerated.

"Son of a bitch!" Cernan shouted.

"I saw the lunar horizon scroll in different directions, eight times in 15 seconds," he tells me later. "Is it scary? Yes, if you have time to be afraid but I do not have time to be scared. "

Fortunately, Stafford took manual control and stabilized the spacecraft. The engineers then calculated that two more seconds and they would have crashed on the Moon.

"We found out that we did not have a hardware problem, we had a staff problem," says Cernan. "No matter how much we thought we were, no matter how many times we repeated it, you can go wrong if you're not careful."

Although he is almost dead, Cernan must always apologize to the American public for his language.

33.31: Travel Expenses Claimed by Aldrin for a Trip to the Moon in US Dollars

On their return to Earth, Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Mike Collins were the most famous characters on the planet. But that was not reflected in their salary.

According to their seniority, Apollo astronauts earned between $ 17,000 and $ 20,000 a year. That equates to $ 120,000 (£ 96,200) today and the wages of 21st century astronauts. The television presenters covering the mission would have won a lot more.

There was no danger money to go on the moon, but the crews were able to claim travel expenses. Aldrin, for example, claimed $ 33.31 to cover his trip from his home to the Manned Spacecraft Center in Houston … via Florida, the Moon and Hawaii.

Buzz Aldrin has advertised for everything, insurance, cars and porridge oats

In addition to this, astronauts also received a share of the revenue from an agreement between NASA and Life magazine.

When they left the space program, many astronauts were trained by the industry in high-paying executive positions. Others have become television experts or have earned money through their personal appearances and their sponsorships.

After having a cold during his Apollo 7 mission, Wally Schirra became the face of a range of decongestant tablets. Buzz Aldrin has advertised for everything from insurance, cars and oatmeal. His income today is probably considerably higher than in 1969.

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