Microgravity: living on the International Space Station
Microgravity: living on the International Space Station

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Microgravity: living on the International Space Station

4 How much do space missions cost the world?

How much do the space missions cost?

In Figure 4, the missions from Voyager 1 to Dawn are compared with the historical deployment of US troops in Iraq. This is the global cost of space missions after all so these global costs can be compared with the US deployment to Iraq as a direct comparison. Use this information to complete Activity 4.

Described image
Figure 4 Relative costs per space mission.

Activity 4 The cost of space missions

Timing: Allow approximately 10 minutes

Choose the correct answer to the following questions.

1. What is the total cost of all of the space missions shown in Figure 4?


US$10.3 billion


US$900 billion


US$2500 billion


US$3600 billion


US$10 300 billion

The correct answer is a.

2. Given that there are about 8 billion people on Earth, how much would this cost each person? (Hint: round your final answer to 2 significant figures.)











The correct answer is a.

3. As a proportion of one month’s deployment of US troops to Iraq, how much did the Rosetta mission cost?











The correct answer is b.

You’ve seen how much the Rosetta mission cost. The Open University was heavily involved in this mission which provided a significant amount of scientific data. Now watch Video 1 which briefly describes the Rosetta mission to the comet 67p.

Download this video clip.Video player: Video 1
Skip transcript: Video 1 The Rosetta mission.

Transcript: Video 1 The Rosetta mission.

The Rosetta Mission. For centuries, humans have gazed at comets blazing in the night sky, from ancient civilizations, to early astronomers, right up to the current generation of space scientists and engineers, who created a daring mission to explore a comet up close. The mission is called Rosetta. The team behind it, the European Space Agency.
The Rosetta team have overcome many challenges. Its first launch was aborted, missing the chance to visit comet 46P. But they had a backup, 67P Churyumov-Gerasimenko. After ten years of travelling through space to play catch-up with a comet, Rosetta launched a small probe called Philae to land on 67P in November 2014.
However, the harpoons and the rocket designed to lock the probe onto the surface failed to fire. Little Philae, weighing as much as AAA battery on Earth, bounced up, then landed down, only to bounce again. The instruments on board were unharmed. But Philae landed in a crevice too dark for solar power.
The race was on, as the mission control team tried to download the data before Philae's battery was depleted. They managed to gather over 80% of the data they set out to capture from Philae before it went into hibernation. Then, in June 2015, they were overjoyed to hear Philae transmit again. As 67P approached the sun, the energy striking the comet increased enough to bring Philae back to life.
End transcript: Video 1 The Rosetta mission.
Video 1 The Rosetta mission.
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You will now look at the potential impact of space research on social issues.


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