QUOTE (imipak @ Feb 25 2009, 12:15 PM)
ISTR that commercial satellite launches are insured - if the launcher goes bang, the payload owners get a payout which goes some way, at least, towards rebuilding the lost spacecraft. I'm guessing NASA don't do that?
No, NASA (and all other space agencies as far as I know) are "self-insured," i.e. rather than buy commercial insurance, they are simply aware of risks and prepared for the fact that they'll have to absorb costs for occasional failures. If you're a big enough entity, dealing with relatively risky stuff, it's much more efficient to self-insure. (Or, basically, the entire American tax base is NASA's insurer.)