NASA is an underutilized treasure which can be used to ignite the imagination of the American people, reinvigorate our economy, increase America's lead in technology, employ hundreds of thousands of Americans in well-paying jobs, and develop new technologies, industries, opportunities, and capabilities to benefit all Americans. Human spaceflight by NASA can lead America onward and upward! America’s peaceful accomplishments are a guiding light for all nations. NASA’s exploration of the Universe secures the United States' role as leader of the World and earns respect for the United States from people around the World. The 5.7% of the federal budget allocated to NASA in 1967 is the greatest it ever received. This year NASA received less than $19 billion which is less than 1% of the current federal budget. Failure to adequately fund NASA must be reversed for the good of our country.
John F. Kennedy inspired the United States to land humans on the Moon and return them safely to the Earth by the end of the 1960’s. He set this goal in May, 1961, only weeks after the first American to fly in space, Alan Shepard, returned from his 15 minute 22 second suborbital flight atop his Mercury Redstone rocket. Having flown an astronaut in space for five minutes, the United States embarked on a program to send humans 250,000 miles from the Earth, land them on another heavenly body, and bring those explorers home safely. Over four hundred thousand American men and women working together toward the greatest accomplishment in human history brought about the United States’ victory in the space race…that’s 400,000 jobs- American jobs, well-paying jobs, jobs with a purpose, a vision, a goal worthy of the American people. The results of walking on the Moon, bringing home over 800 pounds of lunar materials for scientific study, and inspiring a generation to achieve great things are wide-ranging. America can build on this unprecedented and unmatched foundation.
The technologies developed to attain the goal of landing people on the Moon have resulted in a technological revolution that has spread around the world. The resulting computer and communications technologies have accelerated invention, innovation, and development exponentially. Spinoff technologies (e.g. cell phones, laptop computers, communication satellites, and global positioning satellites) account for a vast number of jobs in this country and increase productivity in all areas of the American economy. The cancellation of the Apollo program contributed to the economic decline the United States suffered in the 1970’s, denied subsequent generations of schoolchildren the inspiring example moon-landings had provided, and allowed the United States to twist in the wind as other countries (some using slave laborers) have striven to catch up to and surpass the United States.
The U.S. successfully landed the first Americans on the Moon in July of 1969. By December of 1972 twelve Americans walked on the Moon, explored its make-up, inspired people around the World, and returned to Earth safely. In the thirty-nine years since Eugene Cernan became the last American to walk on the Moon, no other country has landed humans on the Moon- because they can’t. The United States has not returned to the Moon because we have chosen not to. The opportunity to benefit from our ability to access the Moon’s resources ought not be overlooked or squandered. Permanent settlement of the Moon and sending Americans to explore Mars are goals NASA can accomplish. By succeeding, America will guarantee strength, economic well-being, World leadership, and purpose throughout the 21st Century and beyond. NASA’s mission can elevate the U.S. and all regions of the country that contribute to accomplishment of that mission. Florida and many other States contribute to and benefit from NASA’s accomplishments.
NASA is headquartered in Washington, D.C., and operates facilities in at least twelve States. The United States should use NASA to expand America’s economic base, improve its employment rate and the quality of jobs available, and build on its lead in space exploration. The United States should explore space and benefit from NASA’s accomplishments. Those people who say space exploration is too expensive display the same lack of vision as those who in 1867 derided the $7.2 million purchase of Alaska as “Seward’s Folly.” Just as Alaska has provided the United States with unforeseen vast riches, exploration of space will provide resources, wealth, opportunities, and technologies the likes and value of which many cannot conceive and which other countries are currently incapable of obtaining and developing. NASA can lead the way to a bright, vital, democratic, free, and prosperous future for the people of the United States if America will increase its investment in the cutting edge technologies and far-sighted missions of which NASA is uniquely capable.