This is what happened when NASA did a test of their Orion spacecrafts parachute system - the one they wanted to back to the moon with. $18 billion had been spent by this point; on Orion itself, on a rocket (Ares I) that couldn't lift Orion and a parachute system that couldn't land it.

Anticipated end cost of the Ares I/Orion system: $30+ billion + another $500 million just for a new launch tower.

Cost of Falcon 9, Dragon, 2 launch complexes and another booster - the Falcon 1e: $504 million, just a bit more than the Ares I launch tower.

Yet another reason why so many people are rooting for commercial space to take off.