back to article 'We the People' seek to double NASA budget – at least

Calling all space fans: point your browser to the Obama White House's "We the People" petition website and sign onto an effort to ensure that NASA is funded to at least 1 per cent of the US annual budget. "NASA advances our nation when well-funded;" the petition argues, "by guaranteeing that no less than 1 per cent of federal …


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  1. Turtle

    How to decide. How not to decide.

    There are many ways to decide how much money NASA should receive. But funding it as a percentage of the US annual budget is certainly one of the stupidest.

    1. Captain DaFt

      Re: How to decide. How not to decide.

      Here s a better idea: NASA gets 5% of the US's military budget.

      That'd make NASA better funded than over half the World's militarys!

      1. samlebon23

        Re: How to decide. How not to decide.

        No, the US military gets 5% of NASA's budget. Of course NASA gets all the wasted money from the Department Of Death, that is used to waste lives.

    2. Thorne

      Re: How to decide. How not to decide.

      Why is it the stupidest? It's an amount locked to the government's budget so the next time the Amercian government decides to have another war on terror, it can at least leave NASA alone.

      America is at the point where it can no longer even get it's own astronaughts into space but has to rely on Russia to ferry them.

      1. Martin Budden Silver badge


        Are those the ones who do all the training but never go to space?

    3. Rampant Spaniel

      Re: How to decide. How not to decide.

      I think we need a commitment to give NASA a sensible level of funding to actually achieve its goals. NASA shouldn't be a political toy, it does some pretty damn amazing things, at least when it gets the money. When you are dealing with very long term projects like going to other planets, building shuttle fleets and their replacements, you shouldn't be at the mercy of changing political winds. I don't advocate spending Kennedy levels on NASA unless we have a huge goal that we need to achieve like a base on Mars because we found something there we need, but this on again off again crap just wastes money.

      NASA doing cool stuff has a huge intrinsic value to our future. NASA inspires people, most important it inspires kids and gives them a goal. Isn't it better our kids aspire to be scientists or pilots etc than then next Bouncey or a football player. NASA, in the age of slide rules, put people on the moon and got them back again. That is beyond freaking amazing. The amount of money we wasted, just the amount that got 'lost' to fraud and corruption in Iraq and Afghanistan would have given NASA a 50% boost in its budget, and thats before we look at Afghanistan or the trillion dollar overall cost of each of those wars. We waste so much money on junk we don't need that doesn't achieve its goals, like ethanol in fuel, yet when we have something like NASA that we know works and has great potential to improve our country, we cut and scrimp and save and screw them over.

      1. Tom 13

        Re: sensible level of funding to actually achieve its goals.

        And yet your post refutes itself if we look at things honestly.

        What is NASA's current goal? I can't name one. We haven't had a goal for NASA since Apollo. We've had projects, and we've got fiefdoms, which has resulted in the usual bureaucrat infighting that stifles everything.

        Yes NASA did cool things that fired national and international interest. In the 60s. Since then our notable achievements have pretty much been Challenger and Columbia - both disasters resulting from PHBFH making decisions that ignored engineering input to puff up a superiors. Those kinds of things only happen when there are no clear goals.

        At this point NASA has to be transformed from the point of the spear to the space going equivalent of the FAA and space exploration needs to be turned over to the private sector. For all that I've come down on Musk the last few days, at least his company hasn't killed anybody, they've admitted their failures, and they are working to correct them. I've got more faith in him and others like him getting us up there and doing it right than I do that NASA can.

        1. Rampant Spaniel

          Re: sensible level of funding to actually achieve its goals.

          @tom 13, not sure if that was aimed at me or not. Currently NASA does lack any real serious goals. Frankly because it doesn't have the money. They got dicked around by sucessive administrations flipflopping on funding and direction. They could do awesome things if they got the funding.

          I think NASA's future as a doing big stuff on our own organisation is over, and I can agree with that. Teaming up with the ESA and the Ruskies to build a moon base (or course designated alpha :-)) or a manned mission to Mars would make sense.

          There are plenty of potential goals but no political will to fund them properly. The moon landings and the shuttle fleet stood out to me as outstanding achievements, truly massive endeavours that dared to go beyond someone saying it's not possible and just figuring out how. For the amount we spend on absolute rubbish, we could redirect some of it to knocking people on their asses by doing somthing staggering like a colony on the Moon or walking on Mars. Hell I reckon with enough money we could probably have a colony on Mars.

          50 ish years ago a small miracle occured, not just that the Brits and the French managed to work together, but they managed to design (on paper! actual paper not a CAD package) and build a plane that could fly at twice the speed of sound over sufficent distance to cross the Atlantic. Lets have some more of that please!

      2. samlebon23

        Re: How to decide. How not to decide.

        And what is NASA's goal? To fight the goa'ulds?

        1. Beachrider

          I don't want to be predictable, BUT...


          A bunch of Europeans complaining about American taxpayer funding of its space program. Exquisitely ironic. Owwwww, but it makes me smile!

  2. unwarranted triumphalism

    How about 0%

    Is that a more sensible figure...?

    1. Thorne

      Re: How about 0%

      All the more to spend on terrorists....

      1. Rampant Spaniel

        Re: How about 0%

        we have enough of them, we don't need to buy more! Although we have decided that the world is safe enough to allow knives and bats back on flights, because we know those items were top of your want list of items you just cannot live without on a flight! Just don't turn on the screen on your ereader until you are at 10000ft!

        Heres looking forward to that impromptu game of baseball \ rounders at 40k ft.

  3. Martin Budden Silver badge

    Depends how they spend it.

    I am well aware that the NASA space pen vs Russian pencil story is an urban legend (the pen was developed independently by a private company and then used in both countries' space programs) nevertheless the lesson behind the legend is a valid one.

    1. Francis Boyle Silver badge

      The lesson being

      fund your space program through product placement.

  4. BozNZ
    Thumb Up

    More Pork

    The price of your space toilet just went up to $20M

  5. praos

    Money to burn

    I like it: a government agency which task is to spend money. So put this 1% of GNP on a mighty heap. 5, 4, 3, 2, 1... ignition.

    1. Wzrd1 Silver badge

      Re: Money to burn

      Go to Wikipedia for a short list of NASA spin-off technologies returned to the public domain.

      Short list:

      For more than 50 years, the NASA Innovative Partnerships Program has connected NASA resources to private industry, referring to the commercial products as spin-offs. Well-known products that NASA claims as spin-offs include memory foam (originally named temper foam), freeze-dried food, firefighting equipment, emergency "space blankets", Dustbusters, cochlear implants, and now Speedo's LZR Racer swimsuits. NASA claims that there are over 1650 other spin-offs in the fields of computer technology, environment and agriculture, health and medicine, public safety, transportation, recreation, and industrial productivity.

      The tires on your car (for the UK, tyres), improved by NASA.

      Those grooves cut into concrete highways that improve traction in bad weather? NASA again.

      In wing anti-icing systems for aircraft, preventing aircraft from plummeting to the ground when iced up? NASA again.

      Those IR ear thermometers that are used on babies? NASA again.

      The humble LED? NASA again.

      Safe firefighting equipment in every modern firehouse and firetruck? NASA again.

      Memory foam? NASA again.

      Cordless vacuums? NASA again.

      Freeze dried food, blame NASA.

      State of the art solar power panels? NASA again.

      A lot of PC development? NASA again.

      As I said, an extremely short list. Google it to get a more comprehensive, but still short list.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Money to burn

        While NASA has been responsible for a number of remarkable inventions, there are a couple in that list that are a little suspect.

        Anti-ice systems - I believe a certain B F Goodrich invented them in the 1920s.

        LEDs - Didn't TI and General Electric have a finger in their development?

        PC development - Not in any real sense.

      2. graeme leggett Silver badge

        Re: Money to burn

        Overcooking their contribution?

        The same article explains

        the de-icing system is a "thermo-electric" design for smaller aircraft

        Goodyear developed a new rubber for NASA's use which they then applied to their own products

        Nestle came up with freeze drying in 1938 but NASA used it for their missions

        In several cases, it seems to be that NASA said "we want a smaller, stronger, more energy efficient X" and company's took their money and come up with the goods. So it's more a case that NASA was the cause of developments rather than the source of the invention.

      3. Great Bu

        Re: Money to burn

        If we are basing how much government investment sould go into an industry on it's contribution to technology then how about :

        High speed internet - porn industry.

        Good video compression - porn industry.

        3D video - porn industry.

        Mass storage - porn industry.

      4. Tom 13

        Re: Money to burn

        If you're going to go that route, no government program exceeds the US military for advancements in the sciences.

        Modern surgical techniques, yep military.

        US Highway system, yep military.

        Modern aircraft industry, yep military. And frankly, without the aircraft industry, you don't get NASA. So I guess I can claim all of NASA's contributions for the military too.

  6. MondoMan

    I'd go instead for 0.5% guaranteed for small private company space efforts

    NASA's manned program has gotten too sclerotic and lacks real leadership. SpaceX and the others are the way to go for man on Mars (not the commentard, of course!).

  7. tempemeaty

    Perhaps if NASA actually showed us they're interested by their actions....

    I've sat and listened to researchers getting hot under the collar because NASA seems to be stonewalling with the Curiosity Mars mission. Every time there's something to investigate that is truly out of the ordinary NASA sends the rover away from it as fast as they can. Now it's also having a convenient issue just when there was demand for testing that last little shiny bit they ran from too. Only thing NASA needs is a kick in the pants of it's Washington management.

  8. Kharkov
    Thumb Up

    How about putting NASA in charge of NASA?

    One major problem that NASA faces is the fact that it has way too many chiefs and not enough indians. NASA's budget comes, every time, with strings attached. Politicians mandate this and that without necessarily funding this and that and so NASA has to pull funding from useful stuff so it can do as instructed.

    One radical notion would be for NASA to get its 18 billion dollars a year and get just one instruction set - Explore the solar system, develop technology that will get the human race to a point where it's at least a two-planet species, observe and study the universe and research new technologies and materials with the first three goals in mind.

    Given the chance, NASA would kill the SLS program and set up a competion to see which private sector company could build a reliable heavy-lifter that was reasonably cheap - say, less than 200 million dollars for around 70 tonnes to LEO.

    Once free of political dithering, NASA could get more Mars probes/rovers/orbiters going and more for Jupiter & Saturn's moons. JWST could be launched and planning for a 2nd JWST could begin with a lot more certainty over cost.

    Won't happen of course, but it's nice to dream...

  9. graeme leggett Silver badge

    How much work is NASA putting into the first "A" compared to the "S"

    Given that it's the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (untillate 50s, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics) how much effort is on boring stuff such as aerofoil profiles etc?

    Or is it just that everyone reports on the exciting space stuff and never the work on aircraf safety and performance.

  10. mfritz0

    Life in Mars

    Once the intelligent life on Mars is exposed and those people in charge of the shadow government that are preventing the actual discovery that NASA is totally capable of achieving are stopped. There will not ever be any problem with funding the role that NASA will play in technological development of the entire Earth, as a whole. It will no doubt receive any funding it needs to develop trade routes and diplomatic ties with the Martians (Not all Martians are evil). All one needs to do to prove to themselves that this is real is to actually look at, and study close-up, the HiRise images coming back from the Mars Observer from just the area around the base of Mt. Sharp, to realize there really is something there. Why NASA refuses to disclose this information is obvious, the "Black" or "Shadow" government in charge of the world is pulling their purse strings and they are refusing to allow NASA to release anything about the "Nephilim" creatures, which are real and quite possibly a threat to members of this "New World Order" , that wants control of this planet. The Pope just resigned, the prophecy is about to be fulfilled. The "End Times" are upon us, wake up. For further information, you can try this link: Here I have collected hundreds of Images in several albums from the raw image files of the Curiosity rover and the HiRise Orbiter camera.

    1. Uncle Slacky Silver badge

      Re: Life in Mars

      Cool story, bro.

    2. killakrust

      Re: Life in Mars

      Nope, sorry Mark, but there is a psychological phenomenon called Pareidolia.

      So basically you are seeing what you want to see, much like when I look up at a cloud and see a dragon.

      As far as I could see, all the images you cited on Facebook were just rocks, and in some cases jpeg artifacts.

      1. Yesnomaybe

        Re: Life in Mars

        This just proves YOU are one of THEM!

    3. D 13

      Re: Life in Mars

      That's a very interesting theory, (smiles reassuringly whilst taking slow steps back toward the door), but can we go back to the topic of whether you've been taking your medication recently?

  11. Yobgod Ababua

    This is pointless.

    The White House (aka Executive Branch) has no authority to set budgets... only to implement them.

    That power is reserved for Congress, who doesn't particularly care about petition sites unless they appear to somehow impact their local constituency or chance of getting personally reelected.

    Many years of accumulated legislation and special-interest lobbying have effectively tied the hands of the executive to do anything useful. While this petition sounds like a good idea, and I'm personally interested in this particular special-interest, this ends up being more of the same thing that's causing the problem that cut NASA in the first place (special interests pushing through requirements that X% goes here and Y% goes there). The same sort of process is, IMHO, the real reason for California's current crisis... over-specification in legislation that leads to general non-liquidity. The Fed should not repeat those errors, if it can help itself.

  12. dlr

    Who can possibly be in favor of more funding for NASA when they waste it on pushing things like manned expeditions to Mars? The only time actual human beings should set foot on Mars is after the terraforming is complete. Until then, robots are the cost effective way to go, there and everywhere else in space, from asteroid mining to exploration of Jupiter's moons, or a telescope at the sun's gravity lens. The tiny additional gains of having a human on the scene are not worth the billions in extra features required to support them and bring them back.

    Fortunately, private enterprise (in the shape of first generation billionaires with money to burn) is taking over from the losers at NASA, so soon that bureaucratic money sink will become even more irrelevant to space exploration than it currently is.

    NASA is so lame, they chose to send (yet another) mission to Mars (this one to investigate marsquakes) rather than send the first ever mission to explore the oceans of Titan for extraterrestrial life. FAIL.

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