Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Give all 9/11 victims a burial on Mars

For the price of the Iraq War, we could give all the victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks a burial and funeral on the planet Mars.  

Excluding the 19 hijackers, 2,974 people died in the 9/11 attacks. Another 24 are missing and presumed dead, for a total of 2,998. Each Mars Rover has a weight of 175.4 kilograms, which is considerably more than the vast majority of humans. Assembly, test, launch, and a year of operations of each Rover cost about $425 million. So for $850 million, we could send a person's body to Mars, accompanied by their own personal Mars Rover, to dig a grave, bury the body, and broadcast funeral rites. Burying each of the 9/11 victims on Mars would then cost a total of $2.55 trillion, which is $450 billion less than Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes' estimate of $3 trillion for the total cost of the Iraq War.

Thanks to reader Andrew Lang for sending in this suggestion with calculations. 

2 comments:

Jonathan Ichikawa said...

And that's assuming NO economies of scale. (Plausibly, there are more efficient ways to produce thousands of rovers; almost certainly, one rover could bury more than one body.)

Neil Sinhababu said...

Yeah. I've made a practice of leaving out economies of scale and scarcity constraints when doing these calculations. It's really hard to figure out how to calculate costs for purchases this big if you build those in.