I'm curious if anyone has ever tallied the expenditures of all of the world's space programs, and then tried to divide it by which planet was targeted. It's possible this has already been done.

If not, would it be possible to make an estimate, or even a guestimate based on available data and compilations?

If a missions budget is not available, an estimate based on any similar missions would be fine, this isn't rocket science. If a mission visited several bodies, then its budget could just be divided evenly or perhaps unevenly as seen fit.

For the purposes of this question, the Sun, the Moon, and Pluto all get to be "planets" because replacing "planet" with "body" makes the title of the question sound creepy. We can skip the missions to study Earth as well.


1 Answer 1


Guesstimate based on number of missions.

  1. Moon. It'll be a while before any planet passes the $100B or so spent on the Apollo program.
  2. Mars
  3. Venus
  4. Saturn (thanks to Cassini)
  5. Jupiter
  6. the Sun
  7. Mercury
  8. Pluto

Some missions visited more planets so we'd have to divide their cost between them.

Least of the major bodies: Uranus and Neptune. And there are lots of asteroids, KBOs and comets that haven't been visited at all.

For a first order estimate, it's enough to track NASA's expenditures. They spend more than the rest of the world combined, I suspect. The USSR ran a lot of missions to Venus, but good luck getting budget numbers on those.

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    $\begingroup$ OTOH if we bundle the small bodies (comets, asteroids) into one class, they got a respectable amount of attention. $\endgroup$
    – SF.
    Oct 3, 2018 at 9:47
  • $\begingroup$ This is shaping up quite nicely! If Venus might be under-represented using NASA only, then perhaps an estimate would be better than an effective zero. "If a missions budget is not available, an estimate based on any similar missions would be fine." $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Oct 3, 2018 at 12:35
  • $\begingroup$ Saturn and Jupiter can swap places in the list in near future. There are two missions to Jupiter (by NASA and ESA) versus just one possibly (NASA Dragonfly) to Saturn. $\endgroup$
    – Heopps
    Oct 3, 2018 at 16:14

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