In his May 20 letter (“Turn eyes back to Earth”), George W. Bagby II argues that America should stop funding NASA and allocate more money toward social programs on Earth. Many Americans share his feelings as they watch workers lose their jobs while NASA spends millions of dollars repairing the Hubble Telescope. As someone who is pursuing a career in the space program, I will argue that NASA is a worthwhile investment.
NASA is a small fraction of the federal budget. Under the 2010 federal budget, NASA will receive $18.7 billion, which is only 0.53 percent of the total budget. By comparison, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid together will receive $1.438 trillion. That could pay for NASA 77 times.
NASA drives new developments in technology that ultimately benefit people all over the world. Many common products were originally developed for the space program. The smoke detector, which has saved countless lives, was developed for the Skylab space station. The first cordless power tools were designed during the Apollo program to collect rock samples from the moon. The supermarket barcode originally kept track of spacecraft parts.
NASA has benefited us in more ways than we realize. We should continue to support NASA and space exploration.