The United States Government conceived the NASA space program in 1958 to pioneer the future in the exploration of space, scientific discovery as well as aeronautic research. The Agency has undertaken several missions to date, some of which were manned while others were unmanned. For instance, NASA has launched at least 100 manned flights, two of which have ended up failing and subsequently killing the crew. The Columbia Disaster of STS-107 in 2003 is one of these failed missions. It is important to discuss how NASA as an important agency to the American government and its people and expound on the reasons the government should cut the funds towards the agency.
The government of the United States has continuously stated that NASA as an agency helps in scientific discoveries, creates employment and anchors the national security. Although this agency benefits America and the world at large, it also has disadvantages. In light of this, there have been different voices, with some calling for its disbandment and others calling for its enhancement and improvement. There are questions that arise due to this on whether the government should fund this agency and the exactly benefits it has to the country. Moreover, it is also important to discuss are the arguments against its funding by the government.
Various reasons exist that supports the funding of the agency by the government. The agency was set up with the vision of implementing a sustainable and affordable program that would ease the exploration of the solar system (U. S. Office 162). Proponents of the funding claim that the agency has conducted research and made discoveries that have benefited humanity in various ways. Additionally, NASA saves lives by keeping track of asteroids that could potentially destroy planet Earth.
In 2013, only 4% of the United States Government’s budget went into funding NASA, a figure that is relatively meager (Committee to Review NASA’s Exploration Technology Development Program 281). Withal, NASA research has resulted in the invention of over 30,000 applications that include weather satellites, firefighting equipment and insulin pumps. NASA brings together a collection of brilliant minds who do research on difficult subjects that leads to useful technological inventions. These weather stations have been used to forecast the coming of hurricanes and other catastrophic phenomena, thus saving thousands of lives (U. S. Office 97). While the people who work at NASA get considerably low pay, they continue working because they believe in the agency’s course. Moreover, the fact that other countries such as Russia, China and Brazil are pouring millions of funds into their space exploration programs, the U.S must step up so that they are not overtaken. Opponents of NASA space exploration view it as a terrible wastage of the country’s resources. Others have made the comparison that the cost of building one space shuttle is equivalent to the loss of one and a half million lives dying of malaria because of lack of anti-malaria nets. A handful of individuals are taken to space using funds that would be enough to construct houses for at least ten million U.S. Citizens.
Others think that the time has come for the government to end its monopoly on the travel in space. It is high time that private individuals and companies took over, after all there is no USSR anymore to compete with. Furthermore, the country is gradually drifting into bankruptcy (Debate, 2013). The country is already engulfed in debt and there are no reasons as to why more money should be pumped into the agency. As a matter of fact, there are already other space travel programs such as CNSA, ESA among others which perform the same functions as NASA. There is simply no more money to spend on these space programs. Additionally, NASA has not made any considerable achievement over the last 5 years despite the millions of cash put into it. Only 5% of the ocean has been explored so far and it would be wise to channel all effort and money into such areas that are within the reach of science rather than those that are beyond. These funds need to be directed into more pressing areas such as the strengthening of the military and the health care services. Investment in more pressing and important amenities like health care, will improve the lives of Americans.
Over the years, there have been various false claims by NASA with the notable one being the claim that there was life on planet Mars in 2005. The agency later refuted these claims saying that it had not gathered any observational data that there was life on the planet (Committee on the Scientific Context for Space Exploration 78). However, it is obvious that the agency has carried out important research that has been of benefit to the entire universe over the years. Despite the challenges it faces, it is worth noting that the agency beneficial and deserves enough financial backing by the United States Government. In addition, Americans pride themselves as the best among the rest and the endeavor to succeed in all fields and explorations is deeply rooted in their culture. This has inspired the government to continue the funding of NASA. Finally, the government should continue funding NASA for the long-term survival of humanity. Currently, the human species relies on the planet Earth for its existence yet there are speculations that an apocalypse may occur that will lead to the planet’s destruction. Therefore, it is good to explore other planets in the universe for an alternative insurance of humanity.
- Committee on the Scientific Context for Space Exploration, Space Studies Board, Division on Engineering and Physical Sciences, National Research Council. Science in NASA’s Vision for Space Exploration. New York: National Academies Press, 2005.
- Committee to Review NASA’s Exploration Technology Development Program, National Research Council. A Constrained Space Exploration Technology Program: A Review of NASA’s Exploration Technology Development Program. Washington: National Academies Press, 2008.
- Office, Government Printing. A budgetary analysis of NASA’s new vision for space exploration. Washington: Government Printing Office, 2010.
- Office, United States. Congressional Budget. A budgetary analysis of NASA’s new vision for space exploration. Washington: Congress of the U.S., Congressional Budget Office, 2004.