Doing the rounds on Capitol Hill in Washington with a group of space advocates of all walks of space life is always an intense event. Fast stepping through the catacombs and corridors of Rayburn, Canon, Longworth, Hart, Dirkson and Russel in a string of talks with staffers of members of congress or senate keeps the blood definitely pumping.
On Monday 36 of us started with two days filled with 97 talks, trying to keep the NASA budget as it is on 17.7 billion US$. Talking about the effects of NASA flagship missions (and those cost real money) on the young people figuring out what to study and what to invest their efforts at school in, helping us all to make them choose STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math). But in order for pupils at our schools to be attracted to that, NASA needs a strong science program, and again that needs a strong budget to do the research that will bring new technology to all of us much further, sometimes decades later, down the line.
The NASA budget is .45% of the total national budget. Knowing that, it must be obvious that shaving off another .01 percent is not going to rescue the economy, but it will well and truly hamper NASA to accomplish its missions.
NASA spending is in salaries and so means jobs. Contrary to popular belief the NASA budget is not launched into space, as the costs of the materials of the hardware is negligible in the total NASA budget. NASA dollars are spend here on Earth, leading to new developments in technology, health (don’t you want a cure for osteoporosis?), innovative thinking. NASA dollars have a known and well documented multiplier effect.
NASA cooperation in the ISS with international partners over the years have provided the USA with an image of being a peacefull partner, a reliable partner. We should take pride in that image and nourish it. This means that not just the ISS but also the ExoMars mission of 2018 should be accorded enough budget to flourish.
Flat is the new up. We don’t advocate spending more on NASA, we would not mind ofcourse, but we understand the fiscal realities of the day. We ask for keeping the NASA budget at 17.7 billion. It is truly money well spend.
The Legislative Blitz of the Space Exploration Alliance had 97 meetings and was comprised of citizens of all ages. We had some young people in our group, Kelly Thomas (17 yr Senior High School student from Stafford, member of the Junbar team), Blaze Sanders (masterstudent in Electrical & Computer Engineering at Johns Hopkins University), CEO of Space Solar Systems which sponsors the Junbar team partipating in the Google Lunar Xprize, and Tristan Laurent (president of Students for the exploration and development of Space at Kansas University).