Fran Bagenal raising her hands in trump as the audience in the LASP auditorium watched the live broadcast of the MAVEN launch. A model of the satellite rests on the table next to the globe of Mars. (Source: Eric Bogatin)
Don't get me wrong, I'm completely in favor of space exploration and to me, this is money well-invested. But the costs quoted are sort of all over the map.
I belive the article puts the cost at $671M, or 2/3 of a billion. This sounded a bit steep for even a Hollywood movie. So I checked Wikipedia, and supposedly the most expensive Hollywood movie was Spiderman 3, at $258M. Quite a bit cheaper. As to comparisons with military hardware, for a single platform and a single unmanned mission, we're in the same ballpark, actually.
I love the quote about the cost being about the same as a feature movie about going to mars. it really hits home about how small these things are in comparrison. They didn't go there, but sometimes we get comparrisons to military and the speed at which our military can burn through 67mil is ... well, the blink of an eye.