November 3 2012
NASA Can Launch America Towards the Future
“How much would you pay for the universe?” (Tyson) Our understanding of the universe is priceless, but many people in America believe that the government is spending too much on the program responsible for space exploration. As a result, NASA faces nearly $1.3 billion in funding cuts for its 2013 budget, which can effectively halt future space exploration missions. Since 1958, NASA has become one of America's most important agencies in developing commercial, medical, and defense technologies, and is a major employer of hundreds of thousands of scientists and engineers who make scientific discoveries that benefit the society. Instead of receiving cuts from funding, NASA's budget should be increased because it can help stimulate the economy, inspire thinkers, and create technology for the future.
“The most powerful agency on the dreams of a nation is currently being underfunded.” (Tyson) NASA's budget has been an important issue for the government. Although it has been fluctuating between $10 and $20 billion for the past few years, the cost for funding NASA has consistently been a minimal percentage of the total federal budget. For the 2012 fiscal year, the agency received $18.2 billion. In comparison, the total federal budget for that year was $3.7 trillion, which means that the funding for NASA had accounted for less than .5% of all federal expenditures. The highest percentage NASA ever shared with the total budget was a mere 5.5%, which occurred during the height of the space race against the Soviet Union in 1966 (States News Service). NASA's proposed budget for 2013 has been cut down to $17.8 billion, but the budget for military and defense has been set at $672 billion. Compared to many of the government's other expenditures, NASA is one of the most affordable.
Contrary to popular belief, NASA actually stimulates growth in the economy and, in many cases, serves as a major employer. This was true for Florida in 2008, when NASA generated $4.1 billion in economic activity for the state and employed over 40,800 people. But the retirement of the space shuttle program in 2011 forced the Kennedy Space Center, where the average annual salary was $77,325, to let over 8000 employees go (Leger). Such a loss devastated the local economy of the surrounding cities, signifying the importance of NASA's economic influence. In addition, a 2010 study reported that the Ames Research Center in the San Francisco Bay area supported more than 8400 jobs and generated $1.3 billion in annual economic activity (States News Service). The facility not only employed engineering professionals, but the development of new offices, classrooms, and laboratories provided thousands of construction jobs for unemployed workers in the area. By increasing NASA's funding, more jobs can be created and the economy would be positively impacted. The Apollo-era of space exploration once galvanized the entire nation, but the consensus enthusiasm towards space exploration has since diminished. Yet, NASA has long been a supporter of education and inspiring America's thinkers by providing an abundance of education forums, programs and scholarships. In 2012, an Emmy from the Lower Great Lakes Chapter of the National Association of Television Arts and Sciences was awarded to NASA Now, an online video series for students, for excellent production in the category Informational/Instructional. With over 3000 educators participating in its Explorer Schools Project, NASA's major education goal is to strengthen America's future workforce (States News Service). Investment in our nation's space program would essentially be investment in the future of America. President Barack Obama once claimed that "Ensuring that the US continues to lead the world in science and technology will be a central priority for my administration”(Raloff). An effective step towards his goal would be to