Why The US Government Must Spend More Money On NASA

Let's speak about this one more time. We need to because the new US federal budget is coming up. The US government should — must — dedicate a lot more money to NASA. And there's no way around it.

It must support NASA because — unlike the shortsighted imbeciles who think NASA is all about flying rockets and cocky astronauts — the science and engineering being developed at Goddard, JPL, Dryden, Ames, JSC, Langley, Glenn, KSC, Marshall, Stennis, Wallops and the hundreds of associated research centres and universities that operate under its umbrella pushes humanity forward in a dramatic way. And at every possible level, on a daily basis.

Even if you don't notice it or think about it day to day, it's all there, permeating your life, helping you, making things better.

Some of NASA's work is fundamental to our survival as species. Yes, NASA is saving your arse. Or trying to, since it has to juggle an absurdly small budget. Saving your arse with the early detection and tracking of asteroids that can destroy our civilisation in a few minutes, and thinking about what to do in case anything threatens us with extinction. What private company is doing that, again?

There are also extremely important undertakings like global climate change monitoring (oh, by the way, did you know that the causes of the greenhouse effect or the effect of CFCs in the life-saving, UV-filtering ozone layer were discovered while studying other planets in the solar system?). Or studying the sun to prevent fundamental satellite network knockdowns. Or Earth's soil control, using satellites from orbit to help farmers in America and all over the world.

The list continues, yet we spend our lives without thinking about these and how important they are for our wellbeing on a day to day basis. Worse: the dolts ask for cuts in NASA spending, even while NASA spending is already ridiculously small. All while the men and women in the bunny suits and white lab coats are saving their sorry and comfy lives, and making them better.

There are even more profound reasons than that, philosophical reasons that are fundamental for everyone. Understanding where we come from and knowing where we are going are questions that we have tried to solve since the dawn of time. Thanks to Hubble, the James Webb Space Telescope, and the Mars Curiosity Rover, we are getting closer to answering these questions every day.

Think about this: one day — and this will happen soon — NASA will discover life in other planets. This alone will have such deep implications in the global psyche that it has the potential to completely change how we relate to each other and to Earth and the universe itself. Forever.

Like this photo. The first photo of Earth as a whole, taken thanks to the Apollo program. This photo finally put in everyone's heads that we are alone in a beautiful sphere in the middle of nowhere. A pale blue dot. This photo taught everyone that our planet is limited and tiny. Sure, we knew intellectually Earth was a ball floating in space before. But when we saw what that meant in practice, everything changed. Right after that photo went public, environmental agencies were founded all over the word, including in the United States. Doctors Without Borders was created. Even people like Nixon passed something like the Clean Water Act. It's not an exaggeration to say that a global environmental movement was born because of this photo.

Just a single photo truly changed the minds of billions around the globe, even if now we take all that for granted. The whole space race was worth it just for that single moment.

But there's more. There's also the practical, day to day things that are here thanks to NASA. Most people believe these materialised out of nowhere. You know — like MAGIC!. The things in this page make everyone's lives so much better. Like the ones in these posters created by Penny4NASA, a non profit organisation dedicated to inform people why we should give more money to the organisation.

These are just a tiny fraction of the things NASA has made possible. Yet, look at them and think about the enormous impact that this humble agency has in the wellbeing of all humans and the economy of the United States and the world. The ramifications are mind-blowing.

It boggles the mind even more when you think that none of these technologies had a business plan behind them. None of them. There were no economic objectives in their development. There was no product to sell. No American corporation would have developed these.

They weren't made for anyone's benefit. Yet they benefit everyone. All because of NASA.

All these inventions were created just because they had to be. Because they had to solve a problem that mankind had never faced before. Because, by taking us where no human has been before and by looking and monitoring our pale blue dot, NASA pushes the envelope in a way that nobody else does. Just like, before NASA, other people sailed or flew to discover new worlds, to push the human race forward.

And this, this complete and evolving body of work, this quest for the unknown that brings a measurable effect to our lives, all this is why we need to keep reaching for the stars. And for that, NASA needs money.

Hey Mr Obama — make it so.


Comments

    And there's the flip side of the coin: the non stick fry-pan that was developed from NASA technologies "poisoned" millions. Though I'm 100% behind more money for NASA if the money comes from the US defence budget.

      I bet 100% of my money that you didn't even bother to google "who invented teflon" before you posted your comment.

    We can just rely on China to do it instead, or private companies.

    I've heard but not verified, that if the US cut military spending by as little as 10%, they would have enough left over for a fully fledged Medicare system, and enough to get to Mars or the Asteroids within less than ten years.

      Personally, I think capturing Asteroids for their minerals and metals would be a better use than going to Mars.

    Does NASA hold onto patents for this stuff the way our CSIRO does?

    Because surely all of the things mentioned in this article would be generating a solid revenue stream.

      protip: patents dont last forever

        Protip: holding a patent for even a year and licensing out for that year makes more money than... not having a patent and not licensing a technology.

      That's totally unreliable, but yes, they should try to monetize wherever they can

    I have nothing but the utmost respect for scientists who toil away thanklessly providing vital research that will bring so much benefit to all of humanity. This entire anti-intellectual culture which shuns nerds, and threatens harm to those who highlight the various ways humans are trashing this planet and living unsustainably is a tragedy of the highest order. These people should be paid a heck of a lot more, and appreciated much more than they are right now. Kudos

      This anti-intellectual culture is a result of collectivist thinking. "Research that will bring so much benefit to all of humanity" should not be the justification of a person's work...they do it because they love it and want to reap the rewards for their achievement.

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now