- a proposal for America’s space program during the current administration -


Is it the purpose of a national space program to "excite" the public?

Adjusted for inflation, in today's dollars, the Apollo program averaged about $21 billion a year. NASA's average space budget (again in today's dollars) since the end of the space program has been about $19 billion a year. So, we have about the same space budget as the Apollo program's average.

61-73 Year after year after year, the public elects representatives who choose to fund our space program at about $20B per year. Through our representatives, we choose to have a space program about as large as that of the rest of the world combined. Through our federal budget, we have chosen to spend a modest amount (about 0.4% of the federal budget) on space. Why?

Public surveys indicate that NASA is the most popular of the federal agencies. But, it is correct to state that the support for the space program is "a mile wide and an inch deep". Both the public and our elected representatives broadly like the space program even if we don't necessarily understand it very well. The space program often survives the cutting board pretty well and it enjoys bipartisan support (a pretty rare quality nowadays). Our representatives would be loathed to end America's space program believing that a great country deserves a great space program.

So the public through their representatives have consistently maintained a decent-sized space program. This is a reflection that the American taxpayer wants to spend a modest amount of our money on space. And why not? We are a democracy and we have the right to spend our money as we choose.

But there is an important question. How much value are we getting for our space budget?

The Apollo program not only successfully achieved the goal of beating the Soviets to the Moon, it inspired generations. It is documented that the pursuit of science at all levels of education increased significantly during this time period. It became common to say, "If we are able to land a man on the Moon, why can we _________". The Apollo program gave our nation a sense of confidence and the rest of the world viewed the United States as being very competent and hence the leading country in the world. To this very day we take pride in having placed a man on the Moon.

Ask a typical American to state the name of any American in space now and what they are doing. In general, the public barely knowns that we have an International Space Station and very few know the name of any astronaut on it nor what they are doing. Is this the best that we can get for a budget 2/3rds of the size as the Apollo program (adjusted for inflation)?

The Plan for Sustainable Space Development (PSSD) proposes a direction for America's space program that wouldn't require any substantial increase in NASA's budget but would deliver a series of accomplish of historic significance and incredible inspiration not only to our own public but that of the world. We can be far ahead in the space leadership if we so choose.

Unfortunately, the likely paths being discussed fail the four principles upon which the PSSD is based. Although crewed return to the Moon seems to be back on the table, the - Relatively little excitement about the current space program despite spending about 2/3rds of the Apollo program adjusted for inflation. THE INSPIRATION OF THE PSSD - Committment to near-term settlement - Selection, down-selection, & training - FH launch - Development of the lander (terrestrial demonstrator) - Development of the UniHab - Telerobotic missions - Crew Missions 1-4 - Returning to the Moon to stay - First woman on the Moon (840 million girls) - First couple (settlement) - First dog - LIVING ON THE MOON -

We can have a cost-effective, full-scale lunar lander soon.

Next: Blah