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Why spend tax money on space

Discussion in 'Political Debate & Discussion' started by NaasPreacher (C4K), Jul 23, 2011.

  1. NaasPreacher (C4K)

    NaasPreacher (C4K) Well-Known Member

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    It is hard for me to question this. I grew up in Huntsville, AL - 'Space City, USA' my childhood memories include test firings of the Saturn V engines. I knew everything about every flight. I thrilled with each accomplishment. I loved the shuttle. I wept at each tragedy.

    But I stopped last week when Endeavour landed and thought about the future. I thought about the incredible costs and wondered why. Why spend those trillions of tax dollars when there is no money? Why spend humans into space? Why use tax dollars at all?

    Maybe now is the perfect time to pull out of space, except for defence purposes of course. If the taxpayer is not paying the bill I suspect the private sector will race to develop the needed technology. Apart from what is needed for security NASA could open source her knowledge banks to give the private sector a boost.

    As much as I hate to ask it -why do we still spend tax dollars in space?
     
  2. padredurand

    padredurand Well-Known Member

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    Velcro, cordless tools, smoke detectors, satellite TV, viscoelastic foam, medical imaging, scratch resistant eyeglasses, NASA has filed more than 6300 patents. Take a look at NASA's Spinoff page to see how many of these inventions have changed our lives.
     
  3. NaasPreacher (C4K)

    NaasPreacher (C4K) Well-Known Member

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    I know all those, but are we not a free market economy? Is it not to to let the private sector di all that now?
     
  4. padredurand

    padredurand Well-Known Member

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    I think this is one place where the free market and government worked well together for the advancement of both. NASA didn't invent Tang but they put it on the map.

    That said, I am also confident that the space program was not just about invention and exploration. Some of those scientific payloads probably had little to no commercial value.
     
  5. NaasPreacher (C4K)

    NaasPreacher (C4K) Well-Known Member

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    I don't regret what has been done, but think the time may be right for the government to get out of it now.
     
  6. padredurand

    padredurand Well-Known Member

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    Is there a business model, outside of government, that makes space exploration and all the science behind it viable? Somewhere in the future a trip to the space station will be like catching the shuttle to Aberdeen. Considering the enormous cost of a shuttle turn-around that doesn't look like something that's going to happen anytime soon.

    If I were the CEO of a company, how would I explain to the shareholders that they may or may not see a return in their investment for 10, 20 or more years? We don't have that kind of mentality in corporate America without the substantial risk being shifted elsewhere. NASA was established in 1958. Companies around the world have contributed in part to the program but none have borne responsibility to the whole.

    A shuttle costs $1.7 billion dollars. A launch averages $450 million. I won't venture to guess the whole cost of the program. I wonder what it would take to not only recoup the investment but provide a return or profit.
     
  7. billwald

    billwald New Member

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    How many of these devises were developed in free fall? According to the cited url, none noted. Actually developed by NASA? Not much.
     
  8. NaasPreacher (C4K)

    NaasPreacher (C4K) Well-Known Member

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    I feel funny arguing from this viewpoint - all Huntsvillians are HUGE space enthusiasts. I am just trying to think through all the whys. Is any potential benefit worth tax dollars in 2011. I suspect that private companies could do the job much cheaper. Can you imagine what McDonalds would pay to see the golden arches on a launch vehicle? Google on a manned spacecraft?

    I also am a limited government guy. I wonder if I am inconsistent to ask the government to keep their hands off other enterprises but still run the space programme.

    Establish justice?
    Insure domestic tranquility?
    Provide for the common defence (I admit above that this is an aspect of space that the government not relinquish)
    Promote the general welfare?
    Secure the blessings of liberty?

    Why is space any different from other area where we want the government out?

    What is the actual benefit for the nation of returning to the moon? Mining? Let a mining company do it.
     
  9. exscentric

    exscentric Active Member

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    I think a big chunk of NASA funding was cut awhile back. They have mentioned different programs on the news that are on hold to stopped. Can't figure any reason to fund it or any of the other "research" that they do like for bugs - cotton in Brazil and the cajillion other things.

    They are building a bridge in Portland that is local and funded almost entirely by feds. while the city spends their money on stainless steel toilets for the downtown streets so the homeless have something to trash.
     
  10. billwald

    billwald New Member

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  11. InTheLight

    InTheLight Well-Known Member

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    It is a tough question without a logical answer. I'd be willing to wager there will never be a return on investment in space exploration in our lifetimes. The reason we should continue is for intangibles like the ongoing quest for knowledge, the technological challenges, and the euphoria of discovery.

    As mentioned, the private sector does not have the patience to take the long view of decades of investment. Not only that, but the most publicized private sector efforts revolve around charging private citizens outrageous prices for a 20 minute joyride into space, the highlight of the trip being about 5 minutes of weightlessness. That's a shallow endeavor.

    I guess the best answer I can give for spending tax dollars on space is for the quest for knowledge and discovery. It's a part of human nature.
     
  12. Magnetic Poles

    Magnetic Poles New Member

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    Actually NO money gets spent in space. It gets spent across America, employing thousands of people. It spawns new private industry. It improves our lives (e.g. GPS). The advancement of science is a noble cause to maintain our economic lead in the world. And for the hawk out there, space is the ultimate high ground, militarily speaking.
     
  13. freeatlast

    freeatlast New Member

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    I think it took off because of the cold war and when the Russians smeared egg on our face with Sputnik. We felt that we could not let them get ahead in any way.
    Over the years it has grown and now become a political fat cow for states to reap from the industry it brings in. So today it is mostly political and I agree it all needs to be put out to pasture except for necessary military purposes.
     
  14. freeatlast

    freeatlast New Member

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    That is inaccurate. We have benefited greatly from the space program but they have done a very poor job of getting that information out to the public. Here is a link to see some of the benefits. http://techtran.msfc.nasa.gov/at_home.html There is many others, but like I said they do a poor job of getting the word out. None the less because of the looming debt it needs to be shut down except for military purposes.
     
  15. InTheLight

    InTheLight Well-Known Member

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    Yeah, it's a great list of spin-off benefits. However, the purpose of space exploration is not to possibly, maybe, get some neat side effect spin off invention, but to explore space. Take your idea of funding NASA to Congress and try to sell it on the idea we might get a biological magnet that can instantly debone fish filets and I bet you don't get the funding.
     
  16. freeatlast

    freeatlast New Member

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    It is not my idea to support the space program. I was simply pointing out you statement of error from your past post. I am for totally shutting down NASA except for national security and even that should have a serious lid on it.
     
  17. NaasPreacher (C4K)

    NaasPreacher (C4K) Well-Known Member

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    As much as it goes against my entire Huntsvillian nature I have to say that I agree that it is time for NASA to stop funding space research. If it is worthwhile someone else will pick it.

    When I was young I thought of space as, indeed, the final frontier. However, this frontier has proven to have far more costs than benefits. Its time to get out.
     
  18. NaasPreacher (C4K)

    NaasPreacher (C4K) Well-Known Member

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    Notice the operative word in the title - it questions spending money 'on' space, not 'in' space.
     
  19. carpro

    carpro Well-Known Member

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    It would have cost a lot less to fund NASA and keep those jobs than it did for a trillion dollar stimulus that produced almost nothing but temporary government jobs at a cost of $278,000 per job.
     
  20. NaasPreacher (C4K)

    NaasPreacher (C4K) Well-Known Member

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    If we are going to create jobs, lets do it on something that will really benefit - like mass transit infrastructure.
     
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