So why should I care about NASA?  There aren’t any meteors coming any time soon, and I don’t get to go walk on the moon.  You guys get like 20% of the budget, right?  Shouldn’t we spend that on something else?

Well first of all, NASA is actually relatively inexpensive, especially when compared to other government programs and some of our nation’s spending habits, and it sure isn’t 20% of the U.S. budget.  We’d have mined all the H3 out of the moon and colonized the solar system by now if it were.  So how much is it really costing you?  Well, in 2012, our budget was set to 0.48% of the U.S. budget, or about 17.7 billion dollars.  Yes, that’s right, that’s less than 1%, not 48% with a typo.  Even at its peak in 1966 NASA did not hit 20%.  In fact, it was at around 4.41%, or about 33 billion in today’s dollars, and we used that to go to the moon.  The entire cost of Apollo program was roughly $136 billion in today’s dollars – including the construction of ships, paying employees, and sending people back and forth to the moon.  That puts a little perspective on what they’re asking us to do today with half the annual budget.  Plus, not all of that is dedicated to manned space either, and what IS dedicated to manned space is divided among all of the manned space program projects, such as crew exploration vehicle, partnering with commercial space endeavors, and the international space station.  And, consider this:  The nation spent $11.4 billion on Black Friday just last year.  That’s 64% of NASA’s budget spent in just one day.

So what has NASA ever done for me?  Obvious answers would be solar energy, GPS, long distance communications and cellular telephones, but what else is there?  NASA posts a lot about their commercial spinoffs here: http://spinoff.nasa.gov/index.html  These spinoffs impact the health industry, medicine, transportation, safety, the environment, and much more. Some examples include scratch resistant lenses on your glasses, water filtration systems, lightweight, compact, cordless tools, memory foam, and invisible braces.  Check it out, do a little research, learn something new. You might just be surprised 🙂

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