Theme: The pursuit of knowledge comes at heavy price

Question: The overwhelming cost necessary to develop and pursue scientific knowledge begs the question: Are major corporations of science, such as NASA, beneficial to society and henceforth, worth the money we are putting into it?

Thesis: Government spending on NASA has increased annually for nearly a decade now, and although critics claim our tax dollars are better off elsewhere, NASA has had an immensely positive impact on our economy and society when compared to other governmental entities, and does not spend nearly as much.

For my research project, I am going to evaluate the cost/benefit analysis of a large science corporation like NASA. So much money is thrown into programs like NASA. Year after year, the bill increases, but magnificent scientific discoveries was uncovered. So my question: Is it worth it? Are our tax dollars better off elsewhere in the economy or is the space economy created and sustained by NASA sufficient enough to continue with the way things are. NASA is at the forefront of any STS topic for obvious reasons: they develop science and technology daily and those findings usually have significant impacts on society as a whole.

Paragraph 1: Introduction; Pursuit of scientific knowledge, why do we do it in the first place? and how does it defines our culture that we live? Lay the foundation of the argument. In this paragraph, I will introduce both sides of the argument and explore, on the surface, scientific knowledge and how it relates to our culture.

Science has been known to be a relatively expensive field of work since the early development of technology and experiments in the 17th century. It is not particularly hard to understand the value of science. ‘Scientific knowledge often contributes to what defines the very culture we have. Society is reliant on the fundamental ideals of scientific knowledge on a consistent basis. Scientific knowledge is apart of culture, but deserves to be recognized with significance considering its’ influence on our daily lifestyles.’ The argument is no stronger than it is today: cultures are fully defined and limited to the capabilities of their scientific knowledge and discoveries.’

Paragraph 2: history of NASA in terms of pursuing knowledge; goals of NASA as presented by them

Introduce the main argument of NASA. Explain why it is being used as the main example.

The proposed budget for the fiscal year of 2019 is just shy of $20 billion for the National Aeronautics and Space administration. They plan on receiving around $400 billion from private entities and supplemental funds. In their proposal, NASA lists their goals very specifically: Enabling U.S. Global Leadership: Our scientific, technological, aeronautics and space exploration efforts are uniquely visible expressions of American leadership, Extending Human Presence Deeper into Space Starting with the Moon for Long-term Exploration and Utilization, Expanding Human Knowledge Through New Scientific Discoveries, Addressing National Challenges that Catalyze Economic Growth, Improving Capabilities and Operations.

Paragraph 3: History of NASA budget; Is this ‘excessive spending’ a problem? Not when compared to other government expenditures.

Compare NASA to other government organizations

NASA is continually criticized for the amount of money they receive and spend on an annual basis. To the untrained eye, $20 billion seems like an overwhelming amount of money that will do nothing but continue to put our nation in debt. However, when you zoom out and look at the bigger picture, you would see that, “For all it does, NASA receives just 0.4 percent of the $4.407 trillion FY 2019 federal budget. Compare that to the Department of Defense. Its budget is $597 billion, or 13 percent of the total. DoD’s budget would pay for 30 NASA departments” (Balance).

Here is how it is broken down:

NASA receives less than any of these other six departments.

  • Health and Human Services – $69.5 billion.
  • Veterans Administration – $83.1 billion.
  • Education – $59.9 billion.
  • Homeland Security – $46.0 billion
  • Housing and Urban Development – $29.2 billion.
  • State Department – $28.3 billion.

Paragraph 4: Benefits of NASA spending; actual physical but also mental (common knowledge) benefits relate back to pursuit of knowledge; just because it has become more expensive, doesn’t mean we need to stop; refer to class text of character pursuing scientific knowledge

Why is it worth it? What physically has NASA given us? What knowledge have they given us?

“A report by the Space Foundation estimated that activities related to space contributed $180 billion to the economy in 2005. More than 60 percent of this came from commercial goods and services created by companies related to space technology. The space economy includes commercial space products and services. It also includes commercial infrastructure and support industries. It also counts aerospace budgets in private companies.” (Balance).

Paragraph 5: Conclusion

How can NASA make better use of their money and expenditures? What can the government do? Why do we even need NASA? What would happen without NASA…

‘Scientific knowledge has a special status in our culture. Whether we recognize it or not, our societies can only go as far as our scientific knowledge allows us too. So long as scientific knowledge continues to grow, our cultures and societies will follow suit and be able to advance simultaneously.’

Sources:

https://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/atoms/files/nasa_fy_2019_budget_overview.pdf

https://www.thebalance.com/nasa-budget-current-funding-and-history-3306321

http://theconversation.com/measuring-the-value-of-science-its-not-always-about-the-money-39361