Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Few arguments are as less well-researched and less grounded in logic than this one, but you're bound to see it on the comments section of just about any article that mentions that a probe recently launched cost somewhere around $300 million or so. All of a sudden the cry goes up to "please fix problems at home first before spending all that money on space!" when 1) money spent on space is not only worthwhile for the exploratory value alone, not to mention protecting Earth from asteroids, giving nations warnings ahead of time of malaria outbreaks, natural disasters and what have you; 2) the amount NASA receives of the federal budget is laughably low. 0.6% of the total federal budget.
But there might be an even better way to demonstrate this. Let's take an article from yesterday on Citibank's repayment of TARP funds and replace the numbers with "NASA until (date)" units to show how long NASA (i.e. the entire American space program - the Shuttle, the American part of the ISS, the Ares rocket program under development, astronaut training, every single probe launched and maintained that NASA is responsible for plus everything else NASA manages to do with the money) could be run using these funds that are being thrown around. This isn't a "the banks are all evil and you're owned by Wall Street" rant, just a demonstration of how laughably low NASA's budget is to other numbers that one sees in the news every day. Remember, this piece of news is about one single company.
Of course, you could also just say that a single War in Iraq would pay for the American space program at current levels for the next 40 years.