To do what NASA does best. Explore!

Apollo 11 Launch:

“Ignition sequence start! 5. . 4. . 3. . 2. .  1. . 0. . All engines running!  Liftoff!”  The Apollo program was the pinnacle of the American space program and the moon landing exhilarated the nation.  However, since then, NASA, or the National Aeronautics and Space Administration fell from grace.   Currently, NASA receives about 0.5% of the US National budget, or to put it in a different light, about $10 of your individual income tax dollars goes to NASA each year.  In this chart describing the 2015 national budget, NASA is included in the sciences section, but still only received about .5% of the total budget.

Discretionary Spending 2015. National Priorities project.

 NASA’s peak funding occured in the 1960’s, when the US landed a man on the moon.  During that era, NASA received a max of 4.41% of the US budget.  Currently, NASA is managing a variety of programs pertaining to space and aeronautics, such as satellite imagery, commercial satellites in space, and the International Space Station.  This chart shows how NASA’s budget was allocated in 2014.

NASA Budget allocations.  Sarah Scoles

 They’ve been tasked with managing more programs in space than ever before, but their funding slowly decreased from the 70’s and 80’s, when they developed the Space Shuttle, and despite it being a very expensive vehicle, NASA was forced to borrow most of the money for it from the Department of Defense, the most funded sector in the US Budget.

This topic is important because every dollar spent on NASA adds $10 to the economy.  Most of this comes from technological innovation and new companies formed to make this new technology from NASA spaceflight.  Some of these technologies include ATMs, GPS, dialysis machines, and CAT scanners.  All together, NASA technologies have accounted for over 1400 products created.  One example of a technology indirectly helping populations is a satellite named SMAP, which monitors soil moisture levels on earth.

Artist’s depiction of SMAP:

It costed $900 million to build and launch, but if that money was used as a direct donation, it could feed the entire continent of Africa for less than one day.  SMAP on the other hand helps its population by improving crop yields and allowing the global population as a whole sustain themselves at a higher level for as long as the satellite is in service, which may be decades even.

Despite this, many people believe that NASA should receive less funding than it already does.  They don’t believe that money should be wasted on outer space and should directly be spent here, on earth, or they believe that NASA gets more funding than it actually does.  Some people may believe that NASA is not capable of going to space anymore and is too entangled with politics to do space exploration.  After doing research on this topic, I feel like I have a better understanding of the “why?” of the issue of funding in the space program, but I am still wondering what kind of role private companies are playing and how that would affect funding if they are successful.  I hope to learn more about the growing private sector of space, along with other people’s opinion on the topic and how much of a problem it may be.  

Annotated bibliography Here

Comments (1)

Tristan Dini (Student 2021)
Tristan Dini

If you explain how important NASA and its space program is some more I believe it will have more impact on the reader and their understanding of why NASA doesn't get enough money.