Spaceflight Now's NASA lays out $28 billion plan to return astronauts to the moon in 2024 quotes NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, and includes the following:
Bridenstine acknowledged the challenge of landing astronauts on the moon in four years. Three companies — Blue Origin, Dynetics and SpaceX — are developing human-rated lunar landers for NASA, which plans next year to select one or two of the lander teams to continue work on their spacecraft.
“There’s a number of different risks when you deal with human spaceflight,” Bridenstine said. “NASA is really really good at dealing with the technical risks.”
“The challenge that we have is the political risk — the programs that go too long, that cost too much, and that end up getting cast out later in the development program,” Bridenstine said, adding that programs that develop over longer schedules often end up with higher overall costs. “So to save money, and to reduce political risk, we want to go fast … 2024 is an aggressive timeline. Is it possible? Yes. Does everything have to go right? Yes.”
Question: Are there any demonstrative examples of "programs that go too long, that cost too much... end up getting cast out later in the development program" that can serve as existence proof that this is real?
A big US government science project that comes to mind is the SSC or Superconducting Super Collider. I'm not sure if that's a useful example because in that case politics may have driven the project and science may have cancelled it, and I think Bridenstine is at least trying to argue the opposite applies here, though that doesn't necessarily mean we have to accept their argument prima facie.
I wonder sometimes if SSC is not so unanalagous to Artemis, whether or not the outcomes are the same.
There are certainly examples to the contrary e.g. JWST arguably grew from \$1 bn to \$10 bn and Hubble by a factor of four and these don't seem to have suffered substantially from political attack, though those are purely science missions whereas Artemis' mandate for boots on the ground "by 2024 or bust" has business-stimulus and political overtones (both domestic and geopolitical).