This archived article was written by: Christopher Palo
The NASA budget is four tenths of one percent of the national tax dollar. If you took a dollar and horizontally cut four tenths of one percent of it off, you wouldn’t even make it into the ink of the paper. Our entire nation’s dreams and future rely on four tenths of one percent of the tax dollar. The $850 billion bank bailout is greater than the entire 50-year-running NASA budget. Yet the government still says that NASA’s budget is too high.
In the 1960s, we were in a Cold War with the Soviet Union. They took a hollowed-out intercontinental ballistic missile and launched it into space with what is perhaps the most well-known satellite ever to orbit the planet. Sputnik actually means “fellow traveler,” but the United States didn’t see it this way; all they saw was the Soviet Union trying to get higher ground.
At that point, NASA was founded. Nine years after, we landed on the moon; developed our space program and created, invented and implemented procedures, technology and person power to go farther than we ever have before.
With that leap, we went through an economic boom. We created heroes, and as a nation came together and continued to thrive. More people were graduating college because they wanted to be those heroes. The technological advancements were staggering.
People were dreaming of tomorrow. Our eyes were on the future and that pushed our country out so far ahead of everyone else that we couldn’t see them in our rear view mirror. Even if people weren’t interested in math and science, they supported the program because it was a benefit to everyone.
Then the government realized that the Soviet Union wasn’t going to make it to moon, so we stopped trying. We slowed our progress because there wasn’t a threat any more. Instead of noticing the greatness of our advancement and the economic boom that came from the space program, the government only saw it as a deterrent of war. The spirit of a nation was slowing being broken.
NASA is a force of nature the likes of which the country has never seen. It holds on it the hopes and dreams of every one. Every kid at one point in their life dreams of being an astronaut. NASA embodies exploration and innovation. NASA is our icon for the future.
Congress decided that four tenths of one percent of the nation’s budget was too much and shut the space program down, saying they don’t have enough money. It is not that they don’t have enough money; it is a gross mismanagement of money. They are taking away our future for interest of their own.
If you were to raise NASA’s budget to, and let’s be unrealistic about it just to see what happens, one penny on the dollar. That pays for the space shuttle, that pays for the astronauts, that pays for the space station and the training and the materials needed for new innovations to get us farther in the universe. With that budget, we would be on mars very soon. We would go back to the moon. We would set up research stations on the moon, we could start mining asteroids. People would believe in their futures once again and try to become great. We would feel an economic boom like never before. People would be dreaming of the future again.
This country was founded on dreams: dreams of freedom, dreams of happiness and dreams of the future. By taking away the space program, Congress is saying we don’t need to dream. That is false. We need to dream now more than ever. We need our heroes, our hopes , our dreams and our future. It is in the human spirit to explore and learn and create, to explore our galaxy, to learn new and better ways of living, to create a sense of wonder and look at the future as a bright and wondrous place of fantastical things we couldn’t even imagine.
By cutting the budget we are regressing. We are going back to the stone age. We are not seeing a race united for the future; we are seeing a world divided by imaginary lines and made up men in the sky.
The space program exemplifies peace and unity and a collective world shouting at the top of their lungs, “We will not quite. We are stronger than anything in the world. We are united and will thrive.” NASA is this country and our race’s single greatest chance for the future. And by taking that away, congress is saying we don’t need a future, we don’t deserve greatness or exploration that we can’t afford our dreams. I say we can and must, or we shall parish.
In the words of Neil Degrasse Tyson, “how much would you pay for the universe?”