The canonical megaprojects had relatively modest budgets

Written 2022-02-01

The spending on the Manhattan and Apollo projects was relatively small, compared to modern spending for large tech companies:


Manhattan Project

Total cost: $23B spent over seven years (in 2020 dollars, originally $2B)


130,000 people

More on the Manhattan Project

The Manhattan Project began modestly in 1939, but grew to employ more than 130,000 people and cost nearly US$2 billion (equivalent to about $23 billion in 2020).[1] Over 90 percent of the cost was for building factories and to produce fissile material, with less than 10 percent for development and production of the weapons. Research and production took place at more than thirty sites across the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada.

Of this amount, $20.2 billion ($126 billion adjusted) was spent on the design, development, and production of the Saturn family of launch vehicles, the Apollo spacecraft, spacesuits, scientific experiments, and mission operations. The cost of constructing and operating Apollo-related ground facilities, such as the NASA human spaceflight centers and the global tracking and data acquisition network, added an additional $5.2 billion ($32.3 billion adjusted). [wikipedia]

Apollo Project

Total cost: $158B spent over 11 years (in 2020 dollars, originally $25.4B)

1961-1972 At its peak, the Apollo program employed 400,000 people and required the support of over 20,000 industrial firms and universities.

More on the Apollo Project

Apollo cost $25.4 billion (or approximately $158 billion in 2020 dollars when adjusted for inflation via the GDP deflator index).[1]

Project Apollo was a massive undertaking, representing the largest research and development project in peacetime. At its peak, it employed over 400,000 employees and contractors around the country and accounted for more than half of NASA's total spending in the 1960s.[136] After the first Moon landing, public and political interest waned, including that of President Nixon, who wanted to rein in federal spending. [wikipedia]

Tech Companies


$141.3B annual operating expenses (2020)

150,028 employees


$71.34B annual operating expenses (2020)