The Price of Going to Infinity and Beyond

by Arushi Chauhan

NASA has a $25.2 billion budget for fiscal year 2021 (White House Budget). This is less than other government organizations received in the U.S. but is a lot of government and tax dollars dedicated to space exploration. Although it seems like a distant subject, citizens should know why their money is or will be spent on space exploration and how its benefits to the economy make it worth the cost.

Organizations like NASA, the U.S. military, and SpaceX need money from their budgets for many aspects of the space industry. George Washington University Research Professor Henry Hertzfeld explained the most costly parts of space travel are, “Without question, hardware and is especially expensive to insure safety of the astronauts.” The funding for space exploration is necessary to ensure that the technology used for space travel is safe for astronauts. Scientific lab equipment is also sent on space missions, especially to the International Space Station (ISS), so experiments can be performed in zero gravity.

It may seem like space travel does not greatly impact the average citizen, but the impact of its price is felt by everyone. NASA supported more than 312,000 jobs nationwide and generated more than $64.3 billion in total economic output during the fiscal year 2019 (NASA Press Release). The economic benefit from these jobs is huge; however, there are downsides to spending money on space exploration. According to Harvard Business School professor Matthew Wienzierl, the main argument is, “[O]f course, the money could be used elsewhere.” Industries like healthcare could use the money; however, space exploration is just as essential because it helps launch satellites needed for internet access.

The money spent on space travel is used on necessities like the hardware required for launches. Space exploration boosts America's economy and impacts the availability of the internet. The experiments conducted in space also have the potential to help people suffering from a variety of medical issues, such as Osteoporosis. Funding space exploration in America has many benefits for the economy and individual citizens that make it worth the cost.