Sunday, May 10, 2009

NASA - Should We Be Investing in Space Exploration?

In these economic stressful times, many of us want the President and congress to cut the budget. Obviously I can think of many places to make cuts that I've discussed before. The reality is that there are additions being made that I don't agree with related to welfare, health care, and hostile take overs infringing on capitalism.

One thing we haven't discussed is NASA. On this weekend of the release of Star Trek, a movie that epitomizes space exploration beyond our wildest imaginations. I have heard discussions on NASA and arguments for or against spending on it. Some people think we are wasting money exploring space, while others want the U.S. to remain the leaders in the world in space exploration.

Let me giving you some spending history budgeted for NASA going back to 1996.

2010 Proposed $18.7 Billion
2009 Estimate: $17.8 Billion
2008 Estimate: $17.2 Billion
2007 Actual: $15.8 Billion
2006 Actual: $15.1 Billion
2005 Actual: $15.6 Billion
2004 Actual: $15.1 Billion
2003 Actual: $14.5 Billion
2002 Actual: $14.9 Billion
2001 Actual: $14.2 Billion
2000 Actual: $6.8 Billion
1999 Actual: $9.4 Billion
1998 Actual: $9.8 Billion
1997 Actual: $9.3 Billion
1996 Actual: $8.0 Billion

The funds proposed for 2010 you can see is not a huge increase relatively speaking. If you break it down per family of 4, it comes to 1.2 cents more. However the total $18.7 billion comes to $62.33 per person or $250 per family of 4. Obviously it's redistributed based on the amount of taxes each person or family pays. The more money you make the more you pay towards this amount. And the converse is true as well.

Funding Highlights:
• Provides $18.7 billion for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Combined with
the $1 billion provided to the agency in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009,
this represents a total increase of more than $2.4 billion over the 2008 level.
• Funds a program of space-based research that supports the Administration’s commitment to
deploy a global climate change research and monitoring system.
• Funds a robust program of space exploration involving humans and robots. The National
Aeronautics and Space Administration will return humans to the Moon while also supporting a
vigorous program of robotic exploration of the solar system and universe.
• Funds the safe flight of the Space Shuttle through the vehicle’s retirement at the end of 2010.
An additional flight will be conducted if it can be completed safely before the end of 2010.
• Funds the development of new space flight systems for carrying American crews and supplies
to space.
• Funds continued use of the International Space Station to support the agency and other Federal,
commercial, and academic research and technology testing needs.
• Funds aeronautics research to address aviation safety, air traffic control, noise and emissions
reduction, and fuel efficiency.

So what do you think about spending on NASA? Is it something worthwhile or is it a waste of taxpayer dollars? I'd like to know what you think.

From my perspective, there are other places in the budget I would cut that would dwarf the spending in NASA. But I would also be hesitant to double or triple their budget anytime soon. I think the research they do feeds the imagination inside all of us. I would love the opportunity to travel to space in my lifetime. But perhaps that is a pipe dream we need to let go of.


John said...

Cut welfare. Increase NASA spending.

vivasuzi said...

I think it's totally worth it to explore space b/c you never know what we may find - maybe a miracle cure, or a money tree :) But I wouldn't go spending a ton extra on it at this time, just keep it running. If only we knew where all the money in the US went! I'm sure there are other places that could be cut... starting with some huge salaries!!

Normal Alex said...

lolita 4 president!! Im sure she would have better policies than Barack Hussein

Jay said...

I happen to think that we get practical value from space research...but more than that, we get human value. Like the arts, space exploration is an expression of our species. A much better use of taxes than waging wars or bailing out greedy corporations that give us absolutely nothing in return.

CuteEnglishGuy said...

If you let go of your dreams what do you really have left thats worth anything?

Lola said...

I agree....keep NASA cut a bunch of other crap including bailouts...I'll go out on a limb and say I could cut the overall budget and still increase NASA's funding. Though I'd be hesitant to greatly increase their funding during said struggling economy.

Thanks for the comments! It's not a topic I often see discussed as I think we just assume it is and will always be around. But at what value added is not often in our thoughts?

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