- #3 Project Apollo ($25.4 billion): the USA landed on the Moon, and might well have been the most successful Federal project ever, for there is evidence that Soviet Union efforts to beat us bankrupted them, leading to the end of the Cold War.
- #2 International Space Station ($160 billion): is the most expensive single project ever constructed in history, and biggest white elephant ever, for it will never produce a marketable product and will crash back to Earth within the decade.
- #1 NASA Space Shuttle Program ($209 billion): from 1981 to 2011 135 missions were flown. The concept was initially given the green light by President Richard Nixon.
Anyway, Black surmised that the Hubble Telescope would be soon to fly and find such exoplanets. Hubble was actually deployed 14 years later, and only in 2008 (32 years later) detected a planet orbiting a star. This telescope was serviced one final time later in 2009 for operation until 2013, when the James Webb Space Telescope is expected to be launched.
- and so will TESS (right, NASA's Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, which was supposed to have been launched last week, but there have been delays),
- and so did the European Union's COROT (COnvection, ROtation et Transits planetaires)
- and will CHEOPS (Characterising ExOPlanets Satellite, scheduled for release the end of this year)
- and someday the James Webb Space Telescope
- expected budget of $0.5 billion for launch in 2007
- now at a cost of more than $8.8 billion with a hopeful operational date in 2020 (note that when I wrote my book on this subject a decade ago the lift off date was 2013)
- surely, will cost more than $10 billion for when??
If the technique Townes and I had proposed in 1976 were used, we would have found an extrasolar planet a decade before the 1992 first sight reported by NASA, and accomplished it for less than 10% the cost of what has thus far been spent. Plus, our method would also have identified the planetary atmospheric composition (related to lasing wavelength). But the whole initial point underscored by Frank Drake was to just find one sure exoplanet to prove that there are planets outside our solar system.