Monday, October 7, 2013

Space Exploration, Funding and Benefits

I read comments on various websites from people that obviously do not research, or bother to learn anything about, the subject they are commenting about.

This wouldn't bother me much except that it seems to be very prevalent.

In this post I am going to correct some misconceptions in regards to space exploration, funding for space operations and exploration. This will, hopefully, shed some light on the benefits of space operations and exploration.

Some of these misconceptions are so obvious that I do not understand why anyone would actually believe them.


Space exploration is too expensive.

The cost is not justified.

We have no business whatsoever using billions of taxpayers dollars going to space.

Space exploration is a waste of money.

We should be looking at balancing the budget first.

My response:

NASA's budget is such a small amount of the Federal budget with comparably large returns (benefits) that I don't understand how anyone could possibly claim that it is too expensive, waste of money, not justified, etc.

The largest NASA budget in it's entire history was in 1966 at only 4.41% of the Federal budget, the smallest budget was in 1958 when NASA was created at 0.1%. The budget for last year, 2012, was only 0.48%.

This is, undoubtedly, much less than the commenters thought.


Use the money for jobs programs.

My response:

Year 2012 - Approximately 79,000 employed, NASA ~19,000, Contractor ~29,401.

Eliminate NASA and 79,000 people with good jobs will be jobless. Sounds like a great jobs program to me – NOT.


We should be sparing no expense to develop renewable energies instead of spending taxpayer dollars going into space.

NASA scientists should be researching energy alternatives instead of gathering useless information about space to satisfy their own curiosity.

Takes funding away from other programs that improves living here on Earth.

NASA scientist should be working on solving problems that are here on Earth. Like eliminating hunger, limiting population, get rid of fossil fuels, prevent, repair environmental damage done by humans, restoring endangered animal species.

I would rather cut all funding to NASA unless they agree to work only on solving problems that are here on Earth.

My response:

The global investment in renewable energies in 2011 was $257 trillion US dollars.

NASA budget for 2012 was $17.77 billion. As mentioned above this was only 0.48% of the U.S. Federal budget. Also a large part of the NASA budget was part of that $257 trillion investment in renewable energies.

NASA has more than twenty satellites in orbit that are part of the Earth Observing System. These satellites observe the land surface, biosphere, atmosphere, and oceans of the Earth. Their purpose is to increase our understanding of climatology/meteorology. One of these satellites is the Greenhouse Gases Observing Satellite, which is dedicated to, you guessed it, greenhouse gases monitoring in our atmosphere.

They also have satellites making observations of the Sun to help our understanding of heliophysics to increase our understanding of climatology/meteorology.

All of this helps us to learn more about the environmental damage done by humans, Earth's weather, global warming, etc. All of the satellites use solar power, the research done to improve it has had a direct impact on improving solar power, which is a renewable energy source.

Medical research in in space also has direct impacts on Earthbound medicine. One example is the Advanced Diagnostic Ultrasound in Microgravity Study. This studies techniques are already being used in professional and Olympic sports injuries. Remote guided ultrasound will be used on Earth in emergency and rural situations, where a trained Doctor may not be present.

NASA is working in cooperation with National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). Did I see negative comments about NASA researching energy alternatives instead of gathering useless information about space and getting rid of fossil fuels? Here's your answer.

Cut NASA funding if the don't work on problems we have on Earth? You got your wish - they are, and have been working on Earthly problems.


The scientific and technological innovations brought to us via space science have provided so many benefits that have, and will continue to, more than justify the costs. The satellites that provide us with global internet connectivity (without this you probably would not be reading this), navigation via GPS (may not mean much to you but a lot of people depend on this - like aircraft and ships, which could cost lives without it), television (without the satellites much of the programming that is available via cable would not be available) are all due to space science and space research, directly and indirectly.

For more information stop being lazy and simply repeating what you've heard others say and look up the information before you start bitching about something.

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