TECHNOLOGICAL CONTRIBUTIONS TO SOCIETY
On numerous occasions and instances, NASA has made a multitude of contributions to society. One such example of the contribution of NASA is advanced computer technology. Seldom do people wonder the humble origins of the smart phone they use every day. Although pitiful by today’s standards for computers, the computers used on the Apollo missions “formed the basis for modern computing” (Puiu). The development of advanced computer software that controlled critical safety and propulsion mechanism in the Apollo missions paved the way for more advanced computer software. This advancement in computer technology eventually lead to the invention of the smart phone. These smart phones would then become a common device throughout the world, whose computing power would make the computers on the Apollo missions pale in comparison. New and advanced computer software are not the only contributions NASA has provided to society. These contributions range from “life-saving medical devices to protective eyewear” (Spector). The advancements in both technology and science made by NASA has had lasting impacts to everyday society.
LACK OF KNOWLEDGE
Although people generally support the NASA space program and believe that it should continue to receive funding from the government there is a lack of knowledge regarding the space program. Carreau states that “on average, Americans believe NASA’s annual budget is about 2.4% of federal spending” when NASA’s annual budget consist of merely “half of one-percent” of the total government budget. This misconception between knowing how much is exactly spent on the space program shows that there is a lack of education and knowledge about NASA functions. This lack of knowledge also contributes to the relative lack of focus by the space agency. NASA is essentially “rudderless” or without direction, despite the program achieving numerous scientific wonders (Levinger). The lack of direction by NASA stems from an inherent lack of education and interest in the space program. Although many support NASA, the public needs to be aware of how the space program functions.
In addition to the lack of knowledge about the NASA space program by the public, there is a seemingly lack of interest in space. In the article, Privatized Space Exploration Has Disadvantages and Benefits, the author claims that “if people understood the purpose of space exploration, then there would be more public interest and the funding from the federal government would more than likely increase.” This claim is based upon the notion that funding for the space agency drastically showed a downward trend since the Cold War ended. The article also states that despite the achievements made by NASA in sending robots to the far reaches of our solar system, the missions have “failed to stoke the public’s imagination the way Apollo’s astronaut once did.” Generally, public interest on the achievements of NASA have dwindled. Despite promises of sending man back to the moon and possibly manned missions to Mars, the space program could only achieve so much with the amount of funding they receive. Levinger states that “most projects end up behind schedule and lacked additional funding.” The inability of NASA to continue projects in a timely fashion stems from the lack of knowledge and education of the public about American space policy. Should interest and the public be properly educated about the numerous contributions made by NASA, there would be a tangible return to society.
Historically, NASA’s total budget peaked at 4.41 percent of the total federal budget in the year 1966, at the height of the Cold War. Three years later, Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong would land on the surface of the moon. They would return as national heroes in the eyes of the American public. In his article, Space Policy Responsiveness: The Relationship Between Public Opinion And NASA Funding, Alan Steinberg contends that there is a historical trend between government responsiveness and public opinion. He also states that the massive for the space program was a direct result of an international competition between the USA and Russia. There is a direct correlation between the funding for NASA and public support. Simply put, the more the public supports a certain aspect, such as space policy, the more the government will respond. During the Cold War, the idea that the Russians would beat the America in the space race became a national issue thus the public supported the massive funding for the space program and the government responded. However, since the end of the of the Cold War, space exploration become more of an after-thought. The moment the Americans realized that Russia could no longer compete with the SA in a space race, a downward trend emerged in the funding of the space program.
NASA is currently underfunded and is unable to achieve the level of innovation and greatness as years previous. Every year, the space agency receives less than one percent of the federal budget. Movements like Penny4NASA are striving to change the situation, in hopes of one day reinvigorating NASA to be one of the forefront engines of innovation. Neil Degrasse Tyson, an American Astrophysicst and Director of the Hayden Planetarium at the Rose Center for Earth and Space in New York City, has appeared before Congress on numerous occasions to try and convince Congress of allocating more funds to NASA. It is our duty as people of America to ensure that NASA returns to its former glory and instill a new wave of technological advancement and innovation.
Carreau, Mark. “Public Display Of Affection.” Aviation Week & Space Technology 175.8 (2013): 19. Academic Search Complete. Web. 26 Oct. 2016.
DeGroot, Jerry. “The US Government Should Cut NASA Funding.” Space Exploration, edited by David Haugen and Zack Lewis, Greenhaven Press, 2012. At Issue. Opposing Viewpoints in Context. 16 Nov. 2016.
Greenwood, Shannon. “Views of Science and the Future.” Pew Research Center: Internet, Science & Tech. N.p., 04 Nov. 2015. Web. 16 Nov. 2016.
Levinger, Josh. “The US Government Should Not Cut NASA Funding.” Space Exploration. Ed. David Haugen and Zack Lewis. Detroit: Greenhaven Press, 2012. At Issue. Rpt. from “Opinion: Should We Cut NASA Funding?: Counterpoint: Funding a New Mission for NASA Is Funding Our Future.” The Tech. Vol. 130. 2010. Opposing Viewpoints in Context. Web. 29 Sept. 2016.
“Privatized Space Exploration Has Disadvantages and Benefits.” Space Exploration. Ed. Michael Ruth. Farmington Hills, MI: Greenhaven Press, 2016. Opposing Viewpoints. Rpt. from “Neil Armstrong Had Little Confidence in Privatized Space Travel.” 2012. Opposing Viewpoints in Context. Web. 29 Sept. 2016.
Puiu, Tibi. “Your Smartphone Is Millions of times More Powerful That All of NASA’s Combined Computing in 1969.” ZME Science. N.p., 01 Sept. 2016. Web. 15 Nov. 2016.
Roff, Peter. “To Infinity and Beyond?: More Wasteful Spending at NASA.” US News. U.S.News & World Report, 10 Apr. 2013. Web. 16 Nov. 2016.
Rogers, Simon. “Nasa Budgets: US Spending on Space Travel since 1958 UPDATED.” The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 01 Feb. 2010. Web. 16 Nov. 2016.
Spector, Dina. “20 Everyday Things We Have Because Of NASA.” Business Insider. Business Insider, Inc, 07 Aug. 2012. Web. 15 Nov. 2016.
Steinberg, Alan. “Space Policy Responsiveness: The Relationship Between Public Opinion And NASA Funding.” Space Policy 27.4 (2011): 240-246. Academic Search Complete. Web. 29 Sept. 2016.
Wallace, Erin. “The United States Should Reignite the Space Race.” Space Exploration. Ed. Michael Ruth. Farmington Hills, MI: Greenhaven Press, 2016. Opposing Viewpoints. Rpt. from “Opinion—Wallace: US Must Reinvigorate Space Exploration.” Dailytoreador.com (11 Nov. 2014). Opposing Viewpoints in Context. Web. 26 Oct. 2016.