The Cost of Exploring Space: Film vs. Reality [Infographic]


For centuries man has been fascinated by the planets of our solar system. The Moon and Mars are both visible to the naked eye and so appear to be within easy reach. Once man landed on the Moon the idea of travelling to Mars was the next logical step. As the vast majority of us will never be lucky enough to journey across space, we can enjoy the next best thing and travel through the medium of television and cinema.

Science fiction films appeared very early in the silent film era and their popularity shows no sign of slowing down. Whilst the cost of building rockets is very expensive, launching them is cheaper than re-creating outer space on earth. The first Alien film, made in 1979,  cost nearly $3 million more to make than America’s Athena ll rocket, launched nearly 20 years later. John Carter, the latest sci-fi blockbuster, is set on the planet Barsoom ( Mars ) and had a budget of $300 million. The most expensive film made to date is Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, which cost Disney a staggering $336 million. Only Sojourner, the first succesful Mars rover, and the space shuttle cost more to make than this expensive fantasy film.

When you compare the cost of filming the stars versus visiting them, our infographic shows some disconcerting figures. The entire Star Trek film series cost more then the space budgets of Canada, Norway and the UK combined. However, the total cost of the Star Wars film series was only half of India’s space budget for 2010.  Prometheus, the latest installment in the Alien series cost 52 times more than the budget set aside by SETI – the Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence. It would appear that we would rather watch aliens on the silver screen than meet them in real life !


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