Why Increasing NASA’s Budget Benefits All Americans

“We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things. Not because they are easy, but because they are hard,” exclaimed President John F. Kennedy during his famous Moon Shot Speech in 1962. President Kennedy’s speech echoed the founding ideals of NASA: to push the boundaries of scientific innovation for all humanity. Since its creation, NASA has continued to strive towards this goal despite its continually decreasing budget. Despite the numerous issues in the U.S. straining national spending, NASA should receive a larger portion of the federal budget because space exploration benefits society and builds national unity unlike any other government-funded program. 

President John F. Kennedy’s Moon Shot Speech (NASA)

Since its creation, NASA has consistently benefited the economy and the lives of everyday citizens. According to a study by the University of Illinois, Chicago, every $1 million in labor spending from NASA creates an additional $6.9 million in labor spending in the U.S. economy. For each $1 million’s worth of output (goods and services) caused by NASA, an additional $7.2 million is generated throughout the U.S. economy (University of Illinois, Chicago). Every dollar spent at NASA creates a ripple effect of additional benefits for the U.S. economy. The study implies that NASA funding creates jobs beyond the organization, continuing employment growth throughout the country. In a time of unprecedented employment in the United States, increased funding for NASA can catalyze American job growth. Additionally, the study shows that NASA’s economic output stimulates production in other parts of the U.S. economy. Overall, investing in NASA can serve as a calculated move for extensive economic benefits for the United States and an investment into American pride.

In addition, NASA develops new technology that leads to the betterment of American lives. For example, in the 1990s, a NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory engineer, Eric Fossum, invented the digital image sensor based on the complementary metal oxide semiconductor or CMOS for short. The CMOS was smaller and more efficient than the imaging technology used at the time. Fossum’s digital image sensor led to the invention of modern technology like cell phone cameras and HD video cameras. By 2015, the CMOS market reached nearly $10 billion (Nasa Technology Transfer Program). The impact of NASA innovations on everyday life is demonstrated by Eric Fossum’s invention of the digital image sensor. The small, high-quality imaging technology stemming from the digital image sensor has become ingrained into modern society and American culture, influencing how millions of Americans capture memories and share experiences. Furthermore, the digital image sensor created a new billion-dollar industry, encouraging economic growth in the U.S. economy. By allocating more funds to NASA, the U.S. government can stimulate further technological breakthroughs that can potentially impact the lives of millions of Americans. In other words, investing in NASA is investing in improving American life.

Space exploration not only has economic benefits but includes cultural benefits for the United States. In the United States, space exploration has a long history of inspiring national pride among its citizens. According to a study by Gallup in 2019, national achievements are one of the biggest boosters for individual national pride. Specifically, scientific achievements are America’s most significant source of national pride (Brenan). For the past 100 years, U.S. scientific achievements have continuously created a sense of national pride for Americans. National pride is important as it serves as a basis for unity and social cooperation within a country. Investing in achievements that create national pride helps foster a sense of belonging and identity for a country’s citizens. One such achievement is the Apollo Space Program, the U.S. space program that sent the only humans to the moon, which has generated national pride like no other event in U.S. history. The FDL Reporter, a reputable news source from Wisconsin, interviewed people if they remembered the Apollo 11 moon landing. Most Americans who lived through the moon landing remember it in great detail. Kenneth Cousins, who was at a Boy Scout camp watching in a big room at the time, remembers being “very proud to be an American on such an occasion.” Bill Mawbey, who was watching from his home, felt “a great surge of patriotism” as he was “proud to be an American” (Roznik). Since the first moon landing was a historic accomplishment for the United States, the memories of the Apollo 11 moon landing have stuck with American citizens for a lifetime. The moon landing showcased America’s commitment to scientific and technological innovation, instilling a sense of patriotism and national pride in being a part of a nation capable of extraordinary feats.

Additionally, the moon landing inspired a generation to become lifelong dreamers and follow the American culture of innovation. Today’s current space program, the Artemis Program, has the potential to reignite Apollo age levels of national pride. The Artemis Program plans to send Americans back to the moon, build a permanent moon base, and use the moon as a stepping stone to sending humans to Mars. In a time of a great cultural divide among U.S. citizens, the new Artemis Program could unite American citizens towards a common goal of reaching the moon once more. By investing in NASA, the U.S. government would help support the underfunded Artemis Program and improve national pride in the United States. Ultimately, as the United States looks to the future, funding space exploration ensures that the next generation has the opportunity to witness revolutionary national achievements, promoting a continued sense of national pride in the nation’s shared accomplishments.  

artemis program poster
Artemis Program Poster (NASA)

Some may argue that the U.S. government should not increase NASA’s budget since there are more pressing matters that federal funds could be used to help solve, like homelessness in the United States. The U.S. government allocated less than 0.2% of its federal budget towards homeless assistance in 2022, while there are over 500,000 homeless people in the United States (National Alliance to End Homelessness). They argue that the increased funding for NASA would take away from more critical programs already not receiving enough funding. They believe spending more government funds on NASA would not benefit the everyday person as effectively as spending more on homeless assistance and other housing programs.

However, increasing NASA funding creates long-term technological and economic benefits that can inadvertently address social issues like homelessness. When talking about the benefits of NASA, Bill Nelson, a NASA administrator, said, “Investment in NASA’s missions is an investment in American workers, American innovation, and American competitiveness for the 21st century… NASA may be a small federal agency, but we punch above our weight, fueling growth in American industry with good-paying, quality jobs in all 50 states and maintaining our leadership in space and science” (Nelson). NASA’s research leads to technical advancements that benefit the everyday lives of Americans. For example, technological advancements can spur economic growth and job creation by creating new industries, which can help solve unemployment and provide revenue directed toward solving homelessness. Providing good-paying jobs to Americans provides a steady income that helps stop the root of homelessness. In the end, investing in NASA has the potential to produce scientific breakthroughs and economic benefits that can indirectly contribute to solving social issues like homelessness. 

Ultimately, NASA’s federal budget should be increased because of its unparalleled benefits for society and national pride. By investing in NASA, the U.S. government continues its culture of innovation, betters the lives of its citizens, and directly boosts the U.S. economy. Providing more funding to NASA is a surefire way to ensure the success of this great American republic.

Sources

Brenan, Megan. “American Pride Hits New Low; Few Proud of Political System.” Gallup, 2 June 2023, news.gallup.com/poll/259841/american-pride-hits-new-low-few-proud-political-system.aspx?g_source=link_NEWSV9&g_medium=LEAD&g_campaign=item_&g_content=American%2520Pride%2520Hits%2520New%2520Low%3B%2520Few%2520Proud%2520of%2520Political%2520System. 

“CMOS Sensors Enable Phone Cameras, HD Video.” NASA Spinoff, NASA Technology Transfer Program, 2017, spinoff.nasa.gov/Spinoff2017/cg_1.html. 

Cowing, Keith. “New Report: NASA’s Economic Benefit Reaches All 50 States.” SpaceRef, NASA, 27 Oct. 2022, spaceref.com/space-commerce/new-report-nasas-economic-benefit-reaches-all-50-states/.

Roznik, Sharon. “From the Maternity Ward to Vietnam, Readers Recall Where They Were for the Moon Landing.” The Reporter, 16 July 2019, www.fdlreporter.com/story/news/2019/07/16/wisconsin-readers-share-memories-apollo-11-moon-landing/1598805001/. 

“State of Homelessness: 2023 Edition.” National Alliance to End Homelessness, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, 23 May 2023, endhomelessness.org/homelessness-in-america/homelessness-statistics/state-of-homelessness/. 

Zelalem, Yittayih, et al. “National Aeronautics and Space Administration & Moon to Mars Campaign & Agency Investments in Climate Change  Research and Technology Economic Impact Study.” NASA, Oct. 2022, www.nasa.gov/wp-content/uploads/2022/10/nasa_fy21_economic_impact_report_full.pdf. 

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