07-22-12, 04:54 PM #1
Fund NASA Properly—A New Beginning for the Future
Fund NASA Properly—A New Beginning for the Future
It is my opinion that the National Aeronautics and Space Administration [NASA] is one of the most successful ventures in the history of the United States of America. While many decry the failure of government, NASA has demonstrated the ability of humanity to undertake challenges verging on insanity, make mistakes along the way, learn from those mistakes, and, ultimately, succeed.
• Human beings have traveled to the moon, and returned home safely.
• The space shuttle program saw 135 missions, with only two failures. Overall, astronauts logged over 1,330 days in space. In addition to regular scientific missions, the shuttles participated in the construction, maintenance, and supply of the International Space Station.
• Our Voyager probes are still transmitting information; thirty-five years later, they tread at the threshold of the great unknown, preparing to leave the measurable boundaries of our solar system.
• The Dawn mission is itself nearly unbelievable: To hurl a big hunk of metal and electronic gear out into the middle of nowhere, dodge rocks flying through space, find one in particular, drop into orbit around the asteroid, perform a survey, kick away, seek out a second massive rock tumbling through the void, and do it again.
• The Mars rover Spirit was deployed for a ninety-day mission on the Martian surface. It lasted 2,269 days before losing contact. Launched on June 10, 2003, NASA lost communication in March, 2011, and confirmed the death of rover Spirit on May 25, 2011. The rover exceeded its mission over twenty-fold.
• The Mars rover Opportunity, launched July 7, 2003, landed on January 25, 2004, intended for a ninety-day mission. Thirty-one hundred days later, Opportunity continues to function and return data about the Martian surface and environment.
• NASA can hit a comet with a probe. Stardust encountered comet Wild 2 in 2004, five years after its launch. In 2009, NASA confirmed that Stardust had found the amino acid glycine at Wild 2. In February 2011, after traveling over three and a half billion miles, Stardust completed its last official mission by revisiting comet Tempel 1, which NASA first explored by literally crashing a probe named Deep Impact. On March 25, 2011, mission control issued final commands to secure Stardust in safe mode, and permanently deactivated its transmitter.
• In 2009, NASA launched the LCROSS mission, including a the deliberate impact of the Centaur rocket stage into the lunar crater Cabeus. This mission confirmed the presence of water on Earth's moon.
And that is only a partial list of NASA's successes.
Yet, in a time of fiscal concern for the United States, with the government facing ballooning deficits, politicians see fit to spend trillions of dollars on wars and the necessary resources of wars while continually shrinking NASA's budget. Its projected outlay for 2012 came in at less than one half of one percent of the federal budget. A static budget of $17.71 billion per annum is projected for 2013-2015. At its peak, the NASA budget constituted 4.4% of the federal budget during the lunar race; that was in 1966. In raw dollars, the budget peaked at $18.7 billion, though the real peak came in 1965, when the $5.1 billion outlay equaled just over $33.5 billion as adjusted to dollar values of 2007. To achieve a similar number, the NASA outlay would still be less than one percent of the federal budget.
Presently, the Mars Science Laboratory, also known as Curiosity, is approaching the Red Planet, and is slated to touch down in the early hours of August 6 UTC. Curiosity's primary mission is to study Martian habitability; this inherently includes the potential for current or former life on Mars. With the potential for discovering organic molecules just below the planet's surface, Curiosity very well could alter the fundamental human paradigm; although unlikely, the MSL could announce for the first time that, "We are not alone."
This, in itself, is a mindbending proposition. The closer we get to this holy grail of science, the more pressing the question seems. And yet its answer is second fiddle—or third, or fourth, or -nth—to so many other things. The idea that our federal budget can be reconciled by hacking away at NASA, kicking it down the ladder of priorities, is futile.
One cannot rightly say, "What if we had spent the war money on space exploration?" After all, the latest warring endeavors were bought largely on credit, contributing to the present American budgetary crisis. Still, though, mere fractions of that spending would reflect, if given to NASA instead, a massive increase in its budget, and thus its mission capabilities.
Presently, NASA is trying to figure its next big Discovery mission; Nature magazine includes a simple internet poll. The three propositions are InSight, intended to learn more about the internal structure of Mars; TiME, intended to explore a hydrocarbon sea on Titan; and Chopper, another mission to explore a comet.
The answer, for those inclined toward scientific discovery instead of methodical mortality, is, "What, are you crazy? All three!" But this, alas, is unrealistic given the state of the federal budget and apparent priorities of American society.
The challenge facing such an inquisitive demand is how to win the policy argument in order to encourage what we might call proper funding of NASA. Indeed, there are plenty of earthbound scientific issues meriting proper funding as well, be they through the National Institutes of Health, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, United States Geological Survey, or other such organizations.
In the age of social media, Twitter hashtag trend manipulation, online petitions, and Facebook movements are all well-known, have been shown in various cases to be effective, and, frankly, are fast becoming clichés.
Let us, then, put our heads together. Perhaps it is arrogant to focus so closely on American endeavors, but I am aware that many of my international neighbors would also like to see NASA properly funded. For all our problems in American society, we still possess tremendous potential for the whole of humanity.
And it is time to tap that potential as if it was oil to be drilled from the earth.
It is time to turn that potential toward the future of the species.
It is time to look upon that boundary between sorcery and science, and make magic once again.
The key, of course, is the transformation of the public discourse. And while this is a tall enough task in and of itself, it is not impossible.
Thus, I would look to my Sciforums neighbors: How shall we effect this change?
Online petitions are not enough.
Hashtag trends are not enough.
Telling your friends to "Like" NASA via Facebook is not enough.
Blogging is not enough.
But in each of those seeds, we can find potential for germination.
How, my friends, might we come together and change the American public discourse? How might we encourage the American political leadership to fund NASA properly?
Lend me your ears, your minds, your hearts. Perhaps in the grand pond, we are not even small fish. But it is the smallest organisms in the ocean upon which the rest of that ecosystem depends. It may well be that a bunch of bulletin-board participants cannot change the world by themselves, but that does not mean we cannot contribute to the transformation.
Let us find a path upon which our resolve might tread.
Let us shout for a newly-shaped future hewn in hope.
Let us go forth, and hitch our wagon to the stars.
Let us reach out, intending nothing less than to hold the Universe in the palm of our hand.
And tell me, if you will, that it is impossible. I will say that is no excuse to not try.
07-22-12, 06:15 PM #2
What is NASA's budget ? How many engineers employs NASA ?
07-22-12, 07:29 PM #3
Unfortunately NASA isn't being funded not because of what it can do but what the politicians want to do with taxpayers money. While NASA is getting the brightest minds to resolve difficult situations politicians only want to make it easy for them to get MONEY for themselves and NASA doesn't give kick backs like the defense department arms dealers do.
07-22-12, 07:38 PM #4
07-22-12, 07:54 PM #5
07-22-12, 08:01 PM #6
I have a round number sum that I think should be spent on NASA in the next funding period.
07-22-12, 09:32 PM #7
There's only a finite amount that can be done from Earth, ultimately you need a geologist on the ground on site.
What ever happened to science for sciences sake?
The US used to be a world leader in science, now it's being overtaken again by Europe and China. Things keep going the way they seem to be going at the moment, the US won't even be able to lean on its international partners, because nobody will want anything to do with them.
But hey, it's not like Relativity and Quantum mechanics has ever done anything for Joe the Plumber, right?
07-22-12, 10:48 PM #8
The Numbers Nearest to HandOriginally Posted by Arauca
I would actually like to see NASA's budget doubled to $35b, with a steady rise to $50b over a period of years. Coupled with defense cuts, that number could climb even higher, but just to start, we need to give them time to plan some missions. Throwing fifty billion at them next year would drown them, and result in some considerable waste.
Eventually, I would like to see—
Should there be a higher priority to protect the earth from incoming asteroids ?
The number of technological innovations filtering out from NASA to the private sector is staggering; leaving vital sections of our space program to the private sector will result in restrictions on data and innovation through intellectual property and patent issues. The private sector gobbles up NASA technology and turns it to all sorts of diverse uses. I have no problem with this. But I do have a problem with the idea of paying private companies to do NASA's work, and then letting those companies restrict distribution of data and product innovation according to profit schemes.
That does not mean the private sector should stay out of space. But neither should they be doing NASA's work instead of NASA.
The current NASA recruitment brochure, from the Office of Personnel Management, asserts, "NASA employs more than 19,000 employees, 60 percent of whom are scientists or engineers, in Washington, DC and in nine Centers across the country." That's around 11,400 scientists and engineers, give or take.
Wikipedia. "Budget of NASA". July 2, 2012. En.Wikipedia.org. July 22, 2012. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Budget_of_NASA
Office of Personnel Management. "NASA: Searching for the Stars". (n.d.) OPM.gov. July 22, 2012. http://www.opm.gov/hiringtoolkit/docs/NASA.pdf
07-22-12, 11:14 PM #9
07-22-12, 11:23 PM #10
07-22-12, 11:28 PM #11
07-22-12, 11:42 PM #12
For one thing, I don't recall discussing my opinion of the space industry in other nations.
On the other hand, so what's your point?
America also has the highest GDP and spends more on defense than the rest of the world combined.
Assuming that NASA's R&D expenditures produce the same economic payoff as the average R&D expenditure, MRI concluded that the $25 billion (1958) spent on civilian space R&D during the 1959-69 period returned $52 billion through 1970 and will continue to stimulate benefits through 1987, for a total gain of $181 billion.Source: The Economic Impacts of the U.S. Space Program
Heck, if you want to go down that road, Americans spend more on Gardening or Hunting each year than they do on NASA:
Americans in general have no idea what NASA’s “cost” is. In fact, most members of the public have no idea how much any government agency’s budget is. What we do know—and have recently documented—is that the public perception of NASA’s budget is grossly inflated relative to actual dollars. In a just-completed study6, we asked respondents what percentage of the national budget is allocated to NASA and to the Department of Defense, the Department of Education, the Department of Agriculture, and the Department of Health and Human Services, among other agencies. NASA’s allocation, on average, was estimated to be approximately 24% of the national budget (the NASA allocation in 2007 was approximately 0.58% of the budget.)Source
07-22-12, 11:44 PM #13
07-23-12, 12:04 AM #14
Trippy comparing expenditures such as leisure and life necessities, to space expenditures has no merits whatsoever. These are apples and oranges in a sense. And your quote from "Economic Impacts of U.S Space Program" focus on the golden age of Space Era with the highest public support...likewise people care less about space now than they did when people were golfing on the moon. NASA gets "a lot" of money, more than any other country in the world, and yes they accomplish great things with it. Of course with more money they could do even more, but frankly it is costly. And the trend of the government has been going to the support of commercial entities rather than NASA, which I fully support.
07-23-12, 01:34 AM #15
07-23-12, 03:10 AM #16
My point Trippy is that NASA's underfunding goes to private commercial space companies like SpaceX, and this is the right step towards space development. The government shouldnt be there forever, every baby grows up from sucking on his moms titty. The time has come for the next SpaceShipTwo and Bigelow Aerospace company to rise (literally).
07-23-12, 03:17 AM #17
We, the US taxpayer via the government, will give more than enough money to pharmaceutical companies this year alone, for advertising(all those TV commercials you see included) and promotions subsidies alone, to do a manned moon mission. They are the most corrupt tax cheats in US history btw, the pharma corporations.
It's really rather pathetic.
07-23-12, 09:06 AM #18
The 3 recent wars created a debt of $14 000 (or more) for every man/woman/child/baby living in the United states. If every man/woman/child/baby donated $100 a week for the next three years then maybe we could get back to pre-war spending.
Million dollar bombs and cruise missiles add-up. NASA funding is R&D money that has helped us build these bombs above all other contributions. Would our cruise missiles exist without NASA?
But seriously... Let's focus on recovery first. Our defence budget is the highest it has ever been, and we need to replace our bombs and lost equipment/men/women. Every other aspect of our economy must contribute to this.
The moral of this story is that even The United States of America cannot overthrow 3 countries without some economic sacrifices. Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya should be forced to pay us for our efforts. I do not believe Americans should bear the cost. This is not what is being done however.
The economic collapse is being blamed on the wars according to studies, but it might just be time for a recession.
I think something contributing to our economic collapse is technology.
My family owned a printing company, and anybody in printing will tell you that it is a dead industry. Nobody needs Phone books, Books, reports, or even junk mail on the scale they used to. 80% of printing companies have vanished.
Video stores - Nobody rents DVD's anymore as you can get everything online.
Camera stores - Nobody develops film anymore.
Farming - 1 farmer can do more with a combine than 200 farmers 100 years ago.
Accountants - are vanishing to software
Many other businesses are getting faster and more automated, with less need for people.
What jobs do people get?
Even buses will likely be driven by automation within the next 50 years.
So research and development may be high on your list of priorities, but America has some real crisis at the moment.
07-23-12, 10:06 AM #19
The problem with increasing NASA's budget is that the more money they have, the more they can waste. NASA spend about half a billion dollars putting a fake upper stage on top of a shuttle SRB and firing it into the sea, whereas SpaceX spent about half a billion dollars building a brand-new rocket engine and two brand-new launchers and firing them into space.
Most of the big NASA successes of recent years came from the 'smaller, faster, cheaper' ideal of a decade or so back, though the failures did help to prove the theory that you can only pick two of those three. The new 'bigger, slower, more expensive' Mars rover may be a good idea in theory as it can carry more instruments than the small rovers, but the landing system looks so insane that I'll be very happy if it actually gets down in one piece.
07-23-12, 10:35 AM #20
Beside your poster is not called for. If I would post a poster about gay , that would really bring your community to ban me.
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