The U.S. should increase funding for NASA

Parikshith Hebbar, Contributing Writer

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration, better known as NASA, has drastically changed America  ever since it was founded in 1958.  Its most widely known achievements are of course space-related, including landing on the moon and winning the space race.  However, few recognize NASA’s importance to civilian life.  Recently, American political discourse has ignored the importance of NASA for national security, technological development, and international affairs.  This trend is especially concerning when comparing NASA’s contributions to our decade long wars in the Middle East and their respective costs.  

Not only does NASA excel in space, the technologies it develops have led to  major contributions to world-changing industries, such as satellite telecommunications, GPS, remote sensing, and space access.  NASA has enabled the first weather imagery to be transmitted from space, deployment of the first geosynchronous satellite, and human access beyond low Earth orbit.  NASA satellites help people understand weather patterns on Earth.  NASA also helps develop and test new aircraft; some of these airplanes have set new records.  The agency also works to make air travel faster and safer.  Not only does NASA benefit the U.S., it’s achievements also help the world.  

“I think NASA is useful and deserves to receive more funding from the U.S.  For example, they invest in technological companies and impact the nation in a positive way.  NASA’s discoveries and achievements also draw attention to science, specifically astronomy, and promotes learning and creating a passion for science for youth,” said freshman Ragib Haque.  

NASA’s budget skyrocketed during the Apollo program in the 1960s.  After the U.S. won the race to the Moon,  space exploration lost a lot of public and political support and as a result NASA’s budget was cut significantly.  

Since the 1970s, NASA’s budget has been limited to 0.5% to 1%  of all government spending.  The amount of money NASA receives is not enough to thoroughly continue any space exploration or research programs.  Most of the money spent by NASA is used for Earth related projects, not space.  This is upsetting because NASA cannot fulfill its main purpose which is to study and perform research on space.  Last year, NASA spent most of its money on contracts with nearly 5,000 businesses, nonprofit organizations, and educational institutions across the country.  

“I think the U.S. should increase funding for NASA because they are creating state of the art technology that is going to help the future of the world.  It also gives opportunities for scientists and STEM students to branch out and succeed in what they like doing.  It is not a private and profitable company.  It deserves to have its funding increased so it can produce more amazing technology,” said freshman Jai Dhillon.  

NASA has made other great non-space related achievements, including creating chlorine-free pools, intruder detectors and other security systems, solar panels, heart monitors,  and easier treatments for dialysis patients.  It has also contributed to making cordless lightweight battery-powered precision instruments, which led to modern electric screwdrivers, drills, and other portable electric and rechargeable devices.  It has developed the use of liquid methane as an alternative source of energy.  NASA’s digital imaging technology has been used for MRIs, radiography, microscopy, and much more.  With all of these technologies that NASA has either created or contributed to, you would think that it deserves to have increased funding to allow the agency to continue to make more extraordinary technological advancements.  

“Yes, they deserve more funding because they have proven multiple times that they are more than capable of making these discoveries and important achievements.  However, I feel that they should be more open to the U.S. government about how they would use their money and how it would allow them to make more of these astonishing discoveries and create more ground-breaking technology,” said freshman Nicholas Bienenstein.  

NASA has not received the appreciation or attention it deserves.  Despite its low funding, NASA is still finding a way to pave a path for space exploration and for making more important discoveries.  Just two years ago, on April 10, 2019, NASA was able to take the first picture ever of a black hole.  If NASA could do this with only a small budget, imagine what it would be able to do with increased U.S. funding.