The Most Expensive Missions Of NASA, Ranked

Since its establishment in 1958, NASA has been at the forefront of pushing the boundaries of human knowledge through space exploration. From groundbreaking scientific discoveries to awe-inspiring technological advancements, NASA’s missions have captured the world’s imagination. However, behind each remarkable achievement lies a significant investment of financial resources. This article delves into the realm of NASA’s most expensive missions, offering a captivating ranking of these ambitious endeavors.

8 Galileo, Estimated Cost: $1.6 Billion

Named after the renowned Italian scientist, Galileo embarked on its voyage toward the largest planet in the Solar System back in 1989. It achieved a remarkable milestone in December 1995 by becoming the first spacecraft ever to enter orbit around Jupiter. While the planet itself holds immense fascination, it was the moons of Jupiter that yielded vital discoveries.

Among them, Europa, concealing vast water oceans beneath its icy surface, stands as a potential abode for life within the cosmic neighborhood. Sadly, Galileo’s captivating expedition couldn’t endure indefinitely and, like most extraordinary endeavors, it eventually reached its conclusion.

7 Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer, Estimated Cost: $2 Billion

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The Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer, also known as AMS-02, is a highly intricate and functional apparatus currently stationed aboard the International Space Station. It was transported there in 2011 by the Space Shuttle Endeavor. Created by Samuel Ting, a Nobel Laureate and particle physicist, AMS-02 stands on par with the most advanced particle accelerators found on Earth.

Its primary objective is to detect antimatter and acquire crucial data that could aid in unraveling the enigma of dark matter. Over its operational lifespan, AMS-02 has amassed data from an astounding 175 billion cosmic ray events, surpassing its initial projected lifespan of three years.

6 Hubble Space Telescope, Estimated Cost: $2.5 Billion

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The Hubble Space Telescope, named in honor of Edwin Hubble, one of the most esteemed astronomers of the twentieth century, faced a challenging beginning when it was deployed into orbit with a slight error that compromised the quality of its captured images. Despite the minuscule nature of the miscalculation, the impact on this delicate technological marvel proved to be significant.

Consequently, NASA dispatched astronauts to rectify the flaw by installing minute mirrors within Hubble’s optical system. Following this crucial repair, Hubble commenced its operation flawlessly, and for the past two decades, it has bestowed upon us the most awe-inspiring photographs ever captured of our vast universe.

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5 Curiosity, Estimated Cost: $2.5 Billion

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The primary objective of Curiosity was to delve into the planet’s geology and climate, aiming to address one of the most pressing inquiries in the realm of astronomy: Could Mars sustain human life? Furthermore, if it was not currently habitable, was it ever in the past?

Thus far, the resounding answer to the first question is a definite negative, indicating that Mars is not currently suitable for human habitation. As for the second question, the answer remains inconclusive at present. Nevertheless, the mere fact that a cutting-edge robotic mission is actively exploring the Martian terrain and gathering invaluable data from another world is sufficient to justify the substantial price tag of $2.5 billion.

4 Cassini-Huygens, Estimated Cost: $3.26 Billion

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In 1997, NASA initiated the Cassini-Huygens mission with the objective of exploring Saturn, which stands as the most magnificent of the gas giants in the solar system. This spacecraft was given its name in honor of two astronomers, Giovanni Cassini from Italy and Christian Huygens from the Netherlands.

Following a seven-year journey, Cassini was deployed into orbit around Saturn, where it diligently gathered crucial information about the planet’s rings, satellites, and atmosphere. Accompanying Cassini on its voyage was the Huygens probe, a passenger from the European Space Agency, which detached from the primary craft on Christmas Day in 2004 and successfully touched down on Titan, one of Saturn’s moons.

3 Global Positioning System, Estimated Cost: $12 Billion

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The Global Positioning System (GPS) is an advanced radio navigation system that operates under the supervision of the U.S. government and is managed by the U.S. Air Force. It enables the precise determination of three-dimensional locations with meter-level accuracy and provides highly reliable time measurements to the nanosecond, accessible worldwide 24/7.

GPS consists of three key components: the control segment, the space segment, and the user segment. To support enhanced spacecraft autonomy and the utilization of more advanced Earth tracking applications, NASA’s commitment necessitates proactive efforts in developing and implementing various GPS applications.

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2 SLS and Orion, Estimated Cost: $23 Billion

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NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) stands as the sole rocket possessing the immense strength and capabilities required to transport the fully loaded Orion spacecraft, along with its crew and cargo, on a single mission to the Moon. It was anticipated to launch in early 2022, but this timeline was changed.

With a maximum thrust of 8.8 million pounds, the SLS surpasses the power of the Saturn V rocket by 15%. In the case of Artemis I, the Block 1 configuration will propel an unmanned Orion spacecraft an additional 40,000 miles beyond the Moon’s orbit, reaching a distance of 280,000 miles from Earth.

1 Apollo Space Program, Estimated Cost: $110 Billion

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The Apollo Program, initiated in the 1960s, coincided with humanity’s inaugural flight in the span of a single lifetime. To support this endeavor, NASA developed the Apollo Command Module, a purpose-built capsule designed to carry a maximum of three astronauts. The Command Module served as the transportation vehicle for the astronauts during their journeys to and from the Moon.

It offered significantly more space compared to the earlier Mercury and Gemini spacecraft, allowing the astronauts to move around relatively freely. However, it’s important to note that the available space inside the Command Module was comparable to the size of a car, so the notion of “plenty” is relative.

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Sources: Secrets of Universe, Mashable, Listverse

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