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Iran has claimed that it intends to put someone on the moon by 2025. I find it hard to believe that Iran has the necessary financial resources to accomplish such a mission.

Notwithstanding some unpredictable advances in the cost-effectiveness of space-travel, is it likely or even possible that Iran will have the ability to finance the innovation or (if such a market exists) purchase of the technology necessary to put a person on the moon by the year 2025? In other words, is the projected financial cost of putting a person on the moon in 2025 beyond what Iran can feasibly afford by 2025?

I'd expect the cost of putting a living person on the moon to be beyond what all but a few countries can afford, even over the course of the next 14 years. That being said I don't know how much space travel to the moon would cost today – much less in 14 years. I also don't know what Iran can reasonably afford to pay for such a venture. As a result, I am skeptical of the plausibility of Iran's claim.

  • Seems to me that if the US could do it consistently (8.5 out of 9 attempts, essentially -- Apollo 8, 10, 11, 12, 13 [half successful], 14, 15, 16, and 17) back in the late 60s and early 70s, then surely Iran can do it by 2025. – Michael Jun 21 '11 at 15:06
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    It took the US ten years, starting with a working ICBM programme. – DJClayworth Jun 21 '11 at 15:29
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    Seeing as the world will end in 2012 I do not see how it is possible. – Chad Jun 21 '11 at 17:09
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    I don't think this question is answerable in its current form, as we can't predict the future... especially the future of a potentially unstable country like Iran. – Sklivvz Jun 22 '11 at 14:58
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    @Sklivvz: Updated the question; comments? – Brian M. Hunt Aug 5 '11 at 13:59
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The answer is it is plausible.

Iran GDP stands at $330 billion.

http://www.google.com/publicdata/explore?ds=d5bncppjof8f9_&met_y=ny_gdp_mktp_cd&idim=country:IRN&dl=en&hl=en&q=iran+gdp+in+usd

The Apollo program costs almost $110 billion in today's dollars

http://www.thespacereview.com/article/1579/1

So if the cost of the space programs is similar, Iran must invest roughly 2% of its GDP on average every year. Some things will be cheaper to produce now like software, but Iran lacks the huge pool of brains that US had at their disposal so if they want to move fast enough they will have to buy foreign talent.

So far so good. Not impossible.

The first thing is that Apollo program had a lot of gifted expertise from the previous space programs and the ballistic rocket projects of the Pentagon, and the US already had the whole industry and infrastructure in place. Iran barely launched their first leo rocket.

So I think we could look to at least doubling of that cost. Now 4% of GDP is a bit of a drain. Also there are political challenges both internal and external - nobody will be comfortable with Iran possessing such potent technologies, and with the extremely high unemployment such expenditures will cause internal unrest which may be the biggest problem. The 50s and 60s were unprecedented times of prosperity and growth.

And as bragging rights achievement - the only comment any US official will say - it surely took long enough.

  • Well, the advantage that Iran has is that they aren't doing something that hasn't already been done. They don't have to invent any new technology. When the US did it, they had to figure out a whole bunch of new stuff. I'm not sure how much rocket launching technology is kept secret, but I imagine it would be much easier to do it this time around than those who had to do it the first time. – Kibbee Aug 8 '11 at 0:13
  • Actually, unemployment might not be as big a problem as it looks. Space exploration is one of the typical Keynesian job creation solutions. It's high-profile, motivates the young population to seek technical careers, and has a nice spin-off for local industries. – MSalters Aug 8 '11 at 13:11
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    @Kibbee: Rocket science is kept highly secret. In fact, despite the USSR owning ICBM's for decades, NASA today still has restrictions in collaborating with Russia. Any rocket scientist (in any country) will have had the National Security briefing, and will have been screened by the responsible intelligence agency. – MSalters Aug 8 '11 at 13:15
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    you forgot to mention that they may well shortcut the whole thing by trying to buy say a few Russian SS-18 Titan ICBMs (or whatever the name of the "demilitarised" version is) that have been on offer for heavy weight launches for a while now. – jwenting Nov 30 '11 at 12:55

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