If only it was true

It’s common knowledge in the space community that a significant fraction of the general public overestimates—often wildly—the amount of money NASA gets. A particularly egregious example of this is a letter to the editor that appeared in Monday’s issue of the Courier-Post newspaper, which serves the New Jersey suburbs of Philadelphia:

I shudder when I think of how much money has been invested — wasted, in my opinion — over the years. And for what? There is so much to be done here on Earth, how about spending some of that money here?

I would like to see the government place a 10-year moratorium on NASA missions and anything space related. We could pay off the national debt, finally come up with a health program that could benefit all Americans, perhaps find cures for dreaded diseases, house the homeless, feed the hungry, educate the illiterate . . . who knows how much more. And we still would have spare change.

Reality check: the national debt right now is roughly $8.4 trillion. The NASA budget over the next ten years: no more than about $200 billion.

9 comments to If only it was true

  • Which is why we need to arm these shuttles and the ISS to the teeth, before we go broke. We wouldn’t wan’t any space tourists committing any space terrorist acts, now, would we.

  • Chance

    No, we wouldn’t want that. Rather than weapons, stopping space terrorism would need to focus on prevention, i.e. screening and background checks of potential space tourists, ensuring control systems are hijack resistant, ect. In the near to mid term, I would expect that it would be finacially and practically unlikely for terrorists to choose this mode to attack, but in the long term it may become an attractive target.

  • Even if you double or triple that figure, or more, by including the military, “black,” other civil, and rapidly increasing private investment, you’re left with the same result. Money invested by our civilization in exploration, even under the widest possible definition, is quite literally lost in the noise. We should be ashamed of ourselves.

    — Donald

  • So, is anyone planning on writing a response to the editorial page?

  • Heh … it’s satire Chance. Get over it.

  • Jim Rohrich

    Another useful idiot.

  • C’mon, man, this is America, you aren’t near as paranoid and patriotic as we demand that you be.

    Ansari could be deep cover.

  • Chris Mann

    Reality check: the national debt right now is roughly $8.4 trillion. The NASA budget over the next ten years: no more than about $200 billion.

    The problem with this logic is that everyone says ‘the national debt is $8400 billion but my department is only $x billion’. Multiply that by 100 government departments and those billions start to add up.

  • Michael Spencer

    ‘If only it WERE True': I lament the confusion of past tense with the subjunctive, the loss of which makes us all poorer.

    Michael Spencer