When most people think of Great American achievements, one of the first things that comes to mind is the Moon Landing. Neil Armstrong’s “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” has earned it’s place among the most famous quotes of all time.
However, this begs the question: When’s the last time mankind leapt? Sure the Curiosity Rover was impressive and groundbreaking, no doubt. But consider this: NASA was formed on July 29th, 1958. In less than 11 years, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were on the surface of the moon. It’s been over 45 years since the first landing. Considering the exponential rate at which technology develops, even the most pessimistic person would believe that we’d have at least set foot on Mars by now. Unfortunately, the reason we haven’t is simple: Money.
Apparently, the destruction of our own planet is more important than the exploration of other ones. At least it seems that way, because per NASA.gov, the operational budget allotted to NASA in 2016 is $19.3 billion. Our Federal Budget, which is distributed to different facets of government, is $3.5 Trillion. Some basic math tells you we provide NASA with only .05% of our national budget. Meanwhile, our Military receives $585 Billion. Just imagine if we spent even a SIXTEENTH of our defense money on NASA and other science programs. We could be on Mars by 2020.
What could possibly be more important than that? I think 12 aircraft carriers, at about $13 Billion apiece, are more than enough. With just the money we spend on one aircraft carrier, we could launch 26 SLS-Orion rockets, which are the vehicles intended to transport us to Mars. Even just getting back to the Moon would be an accomplishment in and of itself. We haven’t set foot on it since 1972.
What if we discovered an asteroid hurtling at the Earth? What if scientists found out a solar flare was imminent? What happens when we use up all our resources? I bet space research and exploration would suddenly seem very important in those situations. This country needs to focus and invest more heavily on space agencies like NASA before it’s too late.