So during a 42-year span in inflated dollars NASA spent just under 4.6 billion a year of 2010 dollars on the Shuttle?
For the 13 year program which began in 1959 and eventually accomplished six successful missions between July 1969 and December 1972, the final cost of
project Apollo was between $20 and $25.4 billion in 1969 Dollars (or approximately $136 billion in 2007 Dollars).
The costs associated with the Apollo spacecraft and Saturn rockets amounted to about $83-billion in 2005 Dollars (Apollo spacecraft cost $28-billion
(Command/Service Module $17-billion; Lunar Module $11-billion), Saturn I, Saturn IB, Saturn V costs about $ 46-billion 2005 dollars).
A 1971 study of NASA concluded that “the $25 billion in 1958 dollars spent on civilian space R & D during the 1958-1969 period has returned $52
billion through 1971 -- and will continue to produce pay offs through 1987, at which time the total pay off will have been $181 billion.
A 1992 article in the British science journal Nature
"The economic benefits of NASA's programs are greater than generally realized. The main beneficiaries (the American public) may not even realize the
source of their good fortune. . ."
The 1989 Chapman Research report, which examined just 259 non-space applications of NASA technology during an eight year period (1976–1984) and
found more than:
— $21.6 billion in sales and benefits;
— 352,000 (mostly skilled) jobs created or saved,and;
— $355 million in federal corporate income taxes
Other benefits, not quantified in the study, include: state corporate income taxes, individual personal income taxes (federal and state) paid by those
352,000 workers, and incalculable benefits resulting from lives saved and improved quality of life. According to the "Nature" article, these 259
applications represent ". . .only 1% of an estimated 25,000 to 30,000 Space program spin-offs. These benefits were in addition to benefits in the
Space industry itself and in addition to the ordinary multiplied effects of any government spending."
In 2002, the aerospace industry contributed more than $95 billion to U.S. economic activity, which included $23.5 billion in employee earnings, and
employed 576,000 people—a 16% increase in jobs from three years earlier.
Public perception of the NASA budget is very different from reality and has been the subject of controversy since the agency's creation. A 1997 poll
reported that Americans had an average estimate of 20% for NASA's share of the federal budget, very different from the actual 0.5% to under 1%.