As noted previously, Curiosity’s landing on Mars is an amazing feat of engineering and another step forward for the exploration of space. In this period of monetary woes, some people have questioned whether the funding used for Curiosity might have been better spent elsewhere. I’m not going to say the $2.5 billion cost was cheap, but compare that to the approximately $14.4 billion spent on the 2012 Olympics and it might not seem quite as bad.
NASA’s cash flow has seen a steady decline since the heady days of the Apollo program, leading to the current plan of using commercial entities for manned trips to the International Space Station (ISS) and other such near-Earth jaunts. Currently, the U.S. is forced to rely on the Russians for travel to the ISS at the cost of $60 million a passenger. While that might seem expensive, it’s a drop in the bucket compared to the nearly $1 billion per shuttle mission.