Wednesday, March 16, 2016

NASA Funding

In astronomy class I like to ask my students what they think about the funding NASA receives from the U.S. government.  That funding comes through the taxpayers in the form of taxes people pay into.  Is this funding adequate?  Should it be increased?  Decreased?  Why?  These are questions that spark a great deal of excellent discussion among students on both sides of the issue.  To discuss funding, it's important to understand how funding to NASA has changed over the years.  Here's a link I give to students that quickly shows the funding to NASA over the years.

NASA Budget

Adjusted for inflation, NASA had a FAR larger budget in the mid-1960s than it did today.  It is, however, a misconception that NASA currently has its lowest funding ever.  As a percentage of the federal budget that may be the case, but in total dollars, inflation adjusted, current NASA funding is greater than the late 1970s and most of the 1980s.  I'm not saying NASA funding should be decreased or held steady.  I'm firmly in the camp that NASA funding should be increased.  I'm just pointing out that although we hear NASA funding is low, it's not at its lowest point ever.  It would be great if funding increased to the mid-1960s level, inflation adjusted of course.  Imagine the missions that could be done with a doubled budget!

Talk to your kids about funding to NASA and see what they think!

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