Should NASA be a priority during a national budget crisis? That’s the question Jack Cafferty was just asking on CNN. He then read off the usual collection of replies from people about the issue, most of whom probably think NASA gets upward of $100 billion a year. They don’t. According to Wikipedia they got about $17 billion in 2007, which was .6% of the US budget. Cutting funding to them is about as silly and pointless as cutting it to Planned Parenthood with perhaps even nastier consequences.
You see, students in the USA are way behind other developed nations in things like math and sciences. Our students are at the forefront of thinking they’re the best, like most of America, but they aren’t, like most of America.
If anything we should be spending more, way more, on NASA and space exploration. I’d be happy if we did spend $100 billion a year. First, that money isn’t shot into the sun. It goes to creating and sustaining jobs here on Earth. Second, imagine the inspiration to our children today if they knew that, ten years from now, we were going to Mars. How many kids currently in high school would want to be a part of that, and would bust their asses to get into science degrees? Third, if it was $100 billion, that would be only about six times the current amount, and would be about 3.6% of the budget, if my math serves me. If we cut the defense budget in half, as I’ve suggested before, we’d save about $350 billion. Surely funneling about $83 billion of that savings to NASA wouldn’t be a bad idea.
Besides, we really do need space exploration. We learn a lot about the universe by doing it, and learn quite a bit about our Earth and were it came from. Plus, it’s just fucking cool to think we’ve had people on the Moon, may send them back some day and will hopefully go on to Mars and beyond. We need to learn more about the wider universe. It’s just smart.