by Meghana Paturu ’22
From launching the first satellite in space to successfully landing the first man on the moon, NASA stands today as one of the most influential organizations in the world. For the past 50 years, NASA has been the civilian agency with the most inspiring and technologically challenging missions.
While NASA is primarily responsible for coordinating America’s space activities, its research has led to the development of products and services that go well beyond the scope of space exploration. Despite its positive contributions, however, the organization’s efforts are limited as it receives less than one percent of the overall federal budget. The organization, for all it has done, should be allocated a greater share of resources from the federal government so it can continue to have a positive impact on the economy, environmental preservation efforts, and the expansion of science education.
Increased federal support for NASA will sustain a strong, high-tech industrial base and strengthen the nation’s growing market. NASA’s attributions have rippled through the economy, supporting industries and increasing employment rates. Technology like GPS and MRI are all developed by NASA, which contribute an estimated $220 billion per year to the economy.
While there are claims that additional space exploration could further increase the U.S.’s debt, their space missions actually boost the economy by engaging the largest manufacturing industries, which advances emerging technologies and helps achieve national science and technology priorities.
In 2025, NASA is planning to spend around 2 billion dollars on an expedition to Mars, an effort that has been met with great opposition. Critics are attempting to obstruct the mission, as they believe the project could lead to massive environmental damage through the release of toxic gases into the upper atmosphere. Though NASA’s carbon footprint is not insignificant, their contributions have in fact been more beneficial than harmful to environmental preservation efforts. From solar arrays to climate models, NASA upholds the idea that while we should reach for the stars, the most important planet to take care of is our own.
In addition, education is an essential part of NASA’s mission. Increased funding to NASA would provide them with the tools to augment our scientific knowledge and develop new engineering modalities. NASA helps scientists around the world by promoting strong collaborations efforts and allowing the public to access their data for free. They also encourage the next generation of scientists to unearth the mysteries of the universe by sponsoring events to encourage increased female involvement in STEM and holding educational programs for high schoolers and underserved communities.
We should all recognize the benefits that NASA will bring to us and our lives in the future. It is clear that NASA will continue to inspire new industries and create new possibilities for the future if it receives an increased amount of funding. It is human nature to explore the unknown, and NASA is the embodiment of the pioneering spirit and hope of a brighter tomorrow in space.