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Space Exploration and The Global Perspective

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NASA Is Broke

Earth Rise

Apollo 8, the first manned mission to the moon, entered lunar orbit on Christmas Eve, Dec. 24, 1968. That evening, the astronauts-Commander Frank Borman, Command Module Pilot Jim Lovell, and Lunar Module Pilot William Anders-held a live broadcast from lunar orbit, in which they took the picture known as Earthrise. Earthrise is a photograph of the Earth and parts of the Moon’s surface taken by astronaut William Anders in 1968, during the Apollo 8 mission. Pilot Jim Lovell explained how, ‘The vast loneliness is awe-inspiring, and it makes you realize just what you have back there on Earth.” Nature photographer Galen Rowell declared it ‘the most influential environmental photograph ever taken’ The historic photo has been credited with being the spark for the entire environmental act. The picture was first published in January 1969 and features the Earth, full of life and color, rising over the dessert lunar landscape. It inspired people to think of the Earth as a whole.

The Global Perspective

The need to inspire the public once again can’t be stressed enough by none other than astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson. In his book “Accessory to War: The Unspoken Alliance Between Astrophysics and the Military” He points out the ways that NASA has made improvements to and played a key role in advancing the military’s technology. Beginning from the first telescope to look at the stars later used by naval ships to peer across the ocean, to complicated special optical lenses used to increase the accuracy of today’s artillery. It is in the best interest of the military to raise the budget for NASA.

The budget for NASA is only half a penny on the dollar of the total United States federal budget. I say let us increase it to one penny. Consider it an investment that is guaranteed to get you out way more than you put in. That penny on the dollar is not just an investment for your pocket, but in our character as a country our economy and in our culture. NASA has a profound effect on our culture that is unmeasurable, and inspiring wonder is something that goes hand in hand with NASA. What do the biggest dreamers as kids say they want to be when they grow up? Astronauts. It is awe inspiring to be a part of anything that NASA does. The best and brightest students strive to be a part of the work that NASA’s working on, student come from around the world to study and our schools bringing more smart people within our borders and striving to continue to be the world’s leader in innovation. When many of the best and brightest are gathered in one place amazing things have and will continue to happen. These are things that are not measured in dollars or by the government, but they are massively important. It may be true that one day the government will no longer need to put taxpayer money into space exploration and research, but that day has not come yet. NASA does not drain nearly as much money from the economy as it contributes, so the funding that goes to NASA is not all lost and should be viewed as an investment. The space program and others like it are not only the reason behind technological advances but also key to the defense of not only the country, but the planet and human race as a whole. Billionaire Elon Musk feels the need to increase NASA’s budget as well, I completely agree. If some day in the future we find ourselves experiencing a disaster like Hollywood portrays, we will be glad we put or money on NASA.

“The good thing about science is that it is true whether or not you believe in it.” NDT.

Coming to terms with the fact that we do not know everything yet would be a huge step forward in the advancement of our species. That acceptance will lead to more people out there looking for answers and a greater understanding of life’s many mysteries. Like why we are here, how have we come to be, and what is our purpose on this tiny ordinary rock, orbiting an insignificant star, in our unimportant galaxy. If we can accept that we are not special, we can discover solutions to life’s biggest questions. Don’t you want to know if life exists somewhere else? Don’t you want to know how everything came to be? These answers can only be solved with science, so we need to first admit what we don’t know, then we can begin to find the right answers.

People have lost their imaginations. We need to find that curiosity we once had and run with it. It can lead to great things. Thanks to the space race we now have satellite TV, laptops, cellphones, smoke detectors, 3d graphics and virtual reality, ear thermometers GPS and the list goes on. Imagine the possibilities if once again we put our faith in science.

The Funding Paradox

As of 1979 the race for space ended. And we stopped advancing on the space frontier. And we’ve been coasting ever since. The problem with coasting is eventually you slow down and everyone else will catch up. We need to be the innovators. Have that ambition once again.

Since the end of the space race, also known as the golden era, the funds going to NASA decreased dramatically from 4.5 % to just 0.5 % of the annual federal budget. The budget has not had sufficient money in it since. This has not gone unnoticed. Elon musk describes in business insider how “We need to become a multi-planet species to ensure the survival of the human race, and we need NASA’s help to do it.” Musk knows that around 0.25% of US GDP, or about 1% of the budget, should be dedicated to space. He makes it clear that he’s not suggesting a return to 4% like during the space race but just an increase from being less than half a penny on the dollar it is today. ‘For 1%,’ he says, ‘we can buy life insurance.’ Getting to space or the moon was a big deal when it had a military advantage. But now it is just some place where satellites live so are cellphones can operate sufficiently. Space exploration leads to great things. Musk went looking on NASA’s website to try and find a date or timeline when they plan to send people to Mars. Failing to find one he plans to do it himself. With the help of his company Space X and hopes to inspire the public and get Nasa’s budget closer to that 1% that it deserves.

Recently Trump has allocated additional funds for NASA, but Musk is still not happy saying, “This bill changes almost nothing about what NASA is doing. Existing programs stay in place and there is no added funding for Mars.” Its not just the money that NASA needs it’s the also the drive and public push to overcome obstacles and make real advancements in science bringing us closer to mars and evolution as a species.

Funding for @NASA, our agency that explores the universe, as a percent of the US Federal Budget: 1966: 5% — 2017: 0.5%

Neil believes so strongly in the need for a space program that has adequate funding to actually study space. He Went and testified in front of the senate science committee to express his concern in the budget or lack thereof.

At the 28th National Space Symposium Neil spoke about that iconic photo taken in 1968, Earth rise, and how it inspired a nation to appreciate our planet and see the need to protect it. What happened to that? Neil thinks Many people outside the space community see it as a special interest group. He reminds us that, ‘Innovation drives economy, it’s especially been true since the Industrial Revolution. Space is a $300 billion industry worldwide, NASA is a tiny percent of that. [But] that little bit is what inspires dreams.’

NASA’s 2011 budget of $18.4 billion representing about 0.5% of the $3.4 trillion United States federal budget. During that year, the U.S. bailout of the banks exceeded the fifty-year budget of NASA, the government allocates 50 times as much money to social programs compared to NASA. The united states federal budget is 3 point something trillion dollars. So, it is not that we cannot afford it, it is that we have chosen not to be able to afford it.

From Galileo to Copernicus to Einstein, the quest for answers has changed the world and our understanding of it. As a fraction of your tax dollar today, what is the total cost of all space borne telescopes, planetary probes, the rovers on Mars, the International Space Station, the space shuttle, telescopes yet to orbit, and missions yet to fly?’ Answer: one-half of one percent of each tax dollar. Half a penny. Imagine if it were perhaps two cents on the dollar. Think of all that would come of that extra half of one percent.

Even during the Apollo era, peak NASA spending amounted to little more than four cents on the tax dollar. On the benefits of technology invented for use in space. Countless women are alive today because of ideas stimulated by a design flaw in the Hubble Space Telescope. Technology used to repair the Hubble Space Telescope’s optical problems led to improved technology for breast cancer detection.

Everyday Technologies

The things that NASA has accomplished have also inspired the accomplishments of others. It breeds innovators and adventures. From discovering new technologies, to bringing a country together in a common goal. NASA is good for the economy and good for the country. We need to increase the budget for NASA to secure our future. Many of the technologies today that we take for granted originated in NASA. Your temper foam mattress and infrared thermometer, scratch resistant lenses, improved car tires, metal and chemical detection systems and hundreds more. Any little gadget you have you can bet NASA made it better.

The Tempur-Pedic mattress company got its start when NASA scientists wanted to provide comfortable seating for pilots that needed to remain in one position for a long time. Umqua is a water purification company that began with NASA and has continued to be successful selling their own product based of NASA’s. There are many cases like these in which new technologies have been created new options for companies due to progress made by NASA.

Many of the devices we use every day require satellites to operate, including cell phones, GPS systems, satellite television, and weather satellites. They all rely on advances NASA made years ago. In the past, it was not known that NASA would contribute so much to society, so how can one claim that NASA will not provide even more advances in the science and technology fields that will greatly alter the economy for the better? The truth is that NASA pushes boundaries. While it appears that NASA does contribute positively to the economy, the point of NASA is not to make money for the economy. It creates opportunity for human improvement in a number of categories. In our efforts to discover new ways to terraform mars, make it habitable for humans, we find new ways to improve the quality of life on earth. From reversing the effects of global warming fixing our atmosphere and finding new methods of renewable energy and improved solar panels. There aren’t any fossil fuels in space which makes NASA a great candidate to solve the issue of over used fossil fuels dumping millions of tons of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere.

So, for people who think NASA is some charity case for some engineers and scientist to do mad experiments, then they do not fully understand the actual role that NASA has played in the economic growth of the nation. Back in 2004, President George W. Bush laid out an ambition plan. The space shuttle was to be eliminated that year, and five years later the replacement for the space shuttle (the Ares system) would be fully operational. And by 2020, the plan was to establish a permanent base on the moon, and after that maybe even an expedition to the planet Mars. Too bad the government has decided to slash funding for many of NASA’s projects in an attempt to fix deficit and boost the economy.

They say the economy is doing poorly, and government money is better spent elsewhere, and apparently, they feel that government money would be better spent outside of programs like NASA. However, there are many sources that directly counter this opinion, claiming that NASA is an investment to stimulate the economy, and not just money being “shot into space”. The cost of NASA is worth it, it can benefit the economy directly through the purchase of goods and creation of jobs, and indirectly by inspiring people in industries that spawn from newly invented technologies and newer better materials. Many companies have gone on to be very successful private businesses after working with materials invented by NASA.

Inspiring Future Generations

In the golden era of space exploration in the late 1950s-1970s every few weeks a newspaper of magazine would have a cover reading the future of tomorrow, the car of tomorrow, etc… That was the time of the world’s fair, a time everyone was captivated by the future. Now it seems to be the only people who are dreaming of a better tomorrow are the scientist. Let’s increase funding to NASA lets develop a greater understanding of science. Think freely. Admit to not knowing everything and search for the right answers. We need to teach more kids to dream big. I have seen an increase in the number of NASA shirts among the younger generation. Yet they did not grow up with NASA being so influential as it once was. I believe it’s going to make a comeback, I hope. The younger generation might just think it’s cool but not realize how necessary it is. We need to get peoples head in the game and bring back the frontier that made America great. We were explorers and discoverers, innovation comes from science. But you cannot get kids to become scientist by saying we need more scientists, you need to get their curiosity and encourage them to dream big.

“If you want to build a ship, do not drum up people to collect wood and do not assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.” Antoine de Saint-Exupery


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  2. Boosting NASA’s Budget Will Help Fix Economy: Neil deGrasse Tyson. (2012). Space.com. Retrieved 25 October 2018, from https://www.space.com/15310-nasa-budget-future-space-exploration.html
  3. Budget of NASA. (2018). En.wikipedia.org. Retrieved 25 October 2018, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Budget_of_NASA
  4. Dickerson, K. (2018). Elon Musk has the perfect argument for raising NASA’s budget. Business Insider. Retrieved 25 October 2018, from https://www.businessinsider.com/elon-musk-says-we-need-to-raise-nasas-budget-2015-9
  5. Joe Rogan Experience #919 – Neil deGrasse Tyson. (2018). YouTube. Retrieved 25 October 2018, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PhHtBqsGAoA
  6. Joe Rogan Experience #1159 – Neil deGrasse Tyson. (2018). YouTube. Retrieved 25 October 2018, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vGc4mg5pul4
  7. Joe Rogan Experience #1169 – Elon Musk. (2018). YouTube. Retrieved 25 October 2018, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ycPr5-27vSI
  8. NASA Acting Administrator Statement on FY 2019 Budget Proposal. (2018). NASA. Retrieved 25 October 2018, from https://www.nasa.gov/press-release/nasa-acting-administrator-statement-on-fiscal-year-2019-budget-proposal
  9. Neil deGrasse Tyson on NASA’s budget. (2018). YouTube. Retrieved 25 October 2018, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mBQLWANBIS0
  10. Neil deGrasse Tyson Testifies Before Senate Science Committee, March 7, 2012. (2018). YouTube. Retrieved 25 October 2018, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rmKlA_UnX8c
  11. Twitter. (2018). Twitter.com. Retrieved 25 October 2018, from https://twitter.com/neiltyson/status/915660477702791169
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