Sunday, December 31, 2006


We can't afford space. It's too expensive. We broke the bank just getting a handful of men to the Moon in 1969 - and now we want to send a baker's dozen at a time? Bah - spend that fortune on something worthwhile like social woes ..

As if
The question remains, however, "What should we afford?" In this regard, a historical perspective is helpful. At its peak, during the Apollo years, America spent 0.8 percent of its gross national product on its civil space program (Figure 2). This level amounted to about 4.5 percent of federal spending at the time (Figure 3) and, perhaps more importantly, about 6 percent of the discretionary portion of the federal budget (Figure 4). Today, we as a nation are spending about one-third of the Apollo peak spending as a portion of the GNP -- and the faction of the increasingly pressured total discretionary budget has declined to 2.5 percent.

0.8 of the GDP is nothing. We can afford that level of spending while holding our breath. It is not, then, about the money spent on space but politics and who controls the spending.
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