By Rikin G
Note: the data shown is an approximation based on current announcements and trends.
This is a comparison of costs for two of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's projects, the Mars Rovers and the Orion spacecraft.
The data for both starts at the amount of money that has been spent as of December 2014, and continues for the next few missions.
- Number of Missions. This refers to the number of spacecraft launches since December 2014. It is represented by the variable n.
- Cost. This refers to the total amount of money spent on each project. It is represented by the variable C, and measured in Billions of US Dollars.
The prices of both missions can be represented as equations. In the following models, C represents the total cost of the program, while n represents the number of missions after 2014.
The cost of the Mars Rover program can be represented by the equation C=2.47n+5.48.
This is because the total cost of the project after this year consists of the price per mission, 2.47n (2.47 Billion Dollars per Mission), and the amount of money spent on it this year and before, 5.48 (5.48 Billion Dollars).
The cost of the Orion program can be represented by the equation C=2.6n+4.3.
This is because the total cost of the Orion project after this year consists of the price per mission, 2.6n (2.6 Billion Dollars per Mission), and the amount of money spent on it this year and before, 4.3 (4.3 Billion Dollars).
Below is a graph showing both equations as lines.
This point is located at (9.077, 27.9) on the graph, meaning that when the Number of Missions is 9.077, the Cost of both programs will be 27.9 (Billion Dollars).
Of course, this data is discreet, as one cannot launch 9.077 missions, so one must understand that the Total Cost of the Mars Rover projects will be lower than the Total Cost of the Orion project after 10 missions.
This break even point is significant, because it provides us and NASA important guidance about where to spend money. When the Total Cost of the Orion project is less than that of the Mars Rover projects, NASA would know that it is a good idea to continue development of the Orion project, as it is not blowing their budget. However, when the Total Cost is greater that that of the Mars Rovers, NASA would have to consider a more cost effective project.