When I was young I would lie on the ground and look up to the stars and wonder how long it would take the human race to go into space like Star Trek. As my life moved on I was amazed by the incredible ease in which our ships left the planet and returned without issue. NASA has learned to make it all look easy to all of us. Over the last 10 years, NASA has seen increasingly deeper cuts to its funding budget. Some people believe, now that Russia lost the space race, NASA is no longer needed. Others believe that because of budget deficits NASA is no longer needed and maybe should even close its doors. I believe just the opposite; I want to give NASA a raise, by doubling the US contribution from just short of a half of a penny on every American tax dollar to a full penny. In today’s uncertain times when the economy is slowing to a halt, taking away an agency that helps in not only the short term but also the long term would be devastating to our nation in numerous ways.
First, NASA contributes over $1.2 billion in contracts to American businesses nationwide per year as reported by NASA.gov. This is just a bonus added to the over 18,000 employees employed by NASA across America today (“NASA’s Innovation Impacts”). Also, you can add the thousands of people who work for companies competing for those same NASA contracts, and without the NASA income to compete for, these other small business wouldn’t exist. These are pretty much the minor contributions to the U.S economy compared to the big picture.
NASA.Gov/Spinoff is a site dedicated to NASA’s contribution to the U.S economy. This is where you can find all of NASA’s patented inventions. NASA has patented over 1600+ new inventions and over 900+ have been granted to U.S. companies and are currently in use (Spinoff Database). When NASA grants a spinoff patent to be used, the company must be based out of the U.S. and have the ability to prove its manufacturing abilities (so you have to prove that you are capable produce the product). This allows viable U.S. companies a massive head start against overseas companies in new technology. This allows larger companies the ability to hire employees for the long haul knowing that they will have a several year head start on any other company in the world. Companies like Nike, GE and RCA have used NASA patents to their advantage for years and many other is do the same later.
Many say that it is nice that is able to give U.S. companies a head start with new technology but our government has other priorities and cannot afford to splurge on things like NASA. For them I remind them that the $850 billion dollar bailout granted to the banks in 2008 in one day is more than the total operating budget for NASA added together since its conception to today ($790b) “What’s at Stake”. So if our government can give away $850 billion of the American tax dollars without any measurable return, pushing NASA’s budget from $17.7 billion to $35 billion should be pretty simple and plus, NASA give a return to the American government and workers.
NASA also within their inventions help the American citizen has a better standard of living. May products have improved not only American citizen’s quality of life but also the length of their lives. NASA has been responsible for these originally produced American products: Lasers, Computer information storage, GPS, Solar technology, packaged foods, Water filtration, Heart rate monitors, Wireless communications, Robotic surgery and replacement joints. There are over 2000 more variations of products that help improve the standard of living for the residents of the United States of America and later the world. For an example, NASA not only created and patented Radial tires but several variations have been added over the years. American companies like Goodyear and Firestone have used NASA patents to not only complete but dominate in a very competitive market place globally. Not only has that helped those companies but the individuals that have bought the tires are getting the newest in proved safety technology. No one says it better than Dr. Neil deGrass Tyson “NASA innovates when it advances a frontier, and that innovations in science and technology are the engines of tomorrow’s economy.”
I would like to remind you that I am willfully leaving out all of the educational and scientific advantages of understanding the universe and where we came from. Advantages of knowing our origins or to explore the galaxy are considered farfetched and frivolous, so we will not go in-depth in those areas. But we will talk about how funding NASA helps fill the STEM field opening with US residents and promote the dreams for our children. A whole generation grew up watching Star Trek and it led to dreams of creating the technology seen on their favorite show. We can thank the invention of the computer, Cell phones (Nextel 2 way), Tele screen (Tele conferencing), Universal Translators, Hypo spray, Probes and Stun Guns to young children who dreamt of these creations. They grew up wanting to make “Star Trek” come alive. Without space being a “cool” place these kids would have never fell in love with the technology yet to be invented. The combination of being in awe of NASA’s accomplishments and a deep love of the show helped society move forward with these very powerful inventions by simple inspiration.
Where were you when we landed on the moon? You probably remember because we made it a big deal, it was thought to be impossible and NASA did it. Kids all a crossed the planet were inspired by the massive feat. That one action not including the Mercury, Gemini or the rest of the Apollo missions created a whole line of children who wanted to grow up and be an astronaut or engineer. American children should have been exposed to the rest of what NASA does also. Imagine is our kids shared in all of the successes that were ground breaking by NASA, what if our school showed all of the important discoveries or inventions and not just shuttle launches. What if NASA had just 10 minutes of video a day for children in class? You would never have to go out of the country to find STEM students or working engineers. . In an article from Forbes (America Desperately Needs More STEM Students, Here’s How to Get Them.) it discusses how the amount of Engineers in the United States that where from the US was at 40% just 10 years ago and has plummeted to just fewer than 15% now. At this pace over the next 30 years nearly all of our high tech equipment will be created and operated by foreign engineers purely because there will not be any American engineers to hire. What if all of your components we buy for our tanks and planes used for national security relied upon a factory in China because we could get them in America, how safe would you feel? Creating and making our own Defense components would be a pretty important factor, What if we went to war with China? Do you think they will still sell us the components we need?
Next, is a consistently over looked fact by people who want to cut NASA is that if a meteorite was heading this way, those people at NASA are pretty much one of the only agencies in the world that could save the planet. Not only do they use millions to keep an eye out earth bound objects but also have started to create solutions in case one is heading this way. Nearly the whole world would have to sit on their hands and wait because NASA is one of the few and when I say few I’m mean like 4 agencies that would have a chance to save the planet. Some of the people who object to spending money on NASA ask the question what is the chances we would really get wiped out by an asteroid? Well we could ask a dinosaur, well not really because most of them larger than a suitcase died when an asteroid approximately 6.2 miles wide slammed into the earth leaving a 110 miles crater Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico. The effects were devastating to life on the planet but you can also look at our moon and see another example. NASA.Gov has an article by Jeffrey Taylor from the Hawai’i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology that explains that the moon most likely was a monster asteroid that hit earth and cause massive damage. They have found that the materials on the moon matched the materials on Earth. The collision caused them to share material and over hundreds of thousands of years bot the Earth and the Moon reformed and hooked together in orbit. If there was life on Earth when that collision happened if would have died. Nothing would live though that.
If you watch major news networks it will seem like there are a lot of rocks flying around trying to hit us and that is true. Nearly 1 asteroid every 6 months is carefully watched because it is uncomfortably close. If you are one of those people that would hate to waste money to ensure our safety from asteroids I would like to remind you that it only takes one and how bad would we look in history if we were too frugal or cheap to prevent our own extinction even though we had the ability. If the meteorite that exploded over a Russian city was just over double the size it was, you wouldn’t be reading this. Also beyond the need to prevent our home planets destruction is the need to move and colonize other planets a crossed the universe; as technology allows us to travel faster and faster we can learn to move farther and farther.
Mars One is already planning to send 7 people to Mars on a one way trip to begin the colorization. You may be saying who in their right mind would want to do that or even pay for it? Well 78,000 volunteers paid $36 to apply for one of those seats; on top of that this project is a publicly funded move by Mars One and has already collected hundreds of thousands of dollars in the form of $5 to $1000 donations from the general public (“Humankind on Mars.”). Most find it funny that the normal population understand the need to spread out by our politicians seem to find it a waste. Ever heard of having all of your eggs in one basket? Well that is currently what the human race is doing. One major extinction event and humans are the same as dinosaurs, something to read about in the next civilizations history books.
There are very few reasons to not fund NASA beyond the fact that the people who control the money want it. NASA uses their funds and accomplishes amazing feats but unfortunately the policy makers don’t get the same “incentives” as they do handing the banks their $850 billion in a single day. NASA has brought so many joys and technological advancement with the tiny sum they currently get, can you recall a single person saved or assisted by TARP? There are also a few people that will say with all of the private sector companies starting NASA is not needed. I leave you with these ideas, without NASA none of those companies would have the technology to enter spaces, second private sector only does the things it does because it makes them money. They won’t be looking for scientific discoveries and will not risking life to advance in space. They only feel safe about starting a space company because NASA took the risk and mastered low orbit transportation. Without NASA breaking the ground no one will follow. After seeing what NASA can do while grossly underfunded, just imagine what it could do with its whopping penny.