“Why do we bother spending so much money on NASA?”
Which is always followed by “We need to spend it here!” We do spend it here. There has never been a budget debate that involved sacrificing a program to allow NASA to be funded. I could go on, but Phil Plait of “Bad Astronomy” has an eloquent reply, so I see no need to repeat his work. I encourage you to read his article “THIS is why we invest in science. This.” Below are a few quotes from the article.
. . . we spend five times as much on tobacco in a year than we do on space exploration.
But it’s a rock-solid guarantee that investing in science always leads to innovations that have far-ranging and critical benefits to our lives. If for no other reason that’s why we need to invest in science: in NASA, in NSF, in NOAA, and all the other agencies that explore the world around us. It’s for our own good. And it always pays off.
“What have you done for me lately?” you ask NASA. What a coincidence, NASA actually has a site “What Have We Done For You Lately?” This is a showcase of NASA inspired innovations. To quote from The Right Stuff, “no bucks, no Buck Rodgers”. NASA research produces and makes available not only first-rate technology, but the “raw materials” that many researchers world-wide use to create new technology, or “spinoffs”. You couldn’t navigate this page without both direct NASA technology and spinoff technology.
The next time you think NASA is wasting your money, first give up your smokes or pizza and then put that money toward helping the homeless (or world peace or whatever your social agenda may be).