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To infinity, and not beyond

Illustration by: Maria Tahir | Staff Photographer

Recently there has been an influx of movies based around space exploration, which has put a spotlight on the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and its current projects, or rather lack thereof.

The NASA projects include the missions to Mars, which hope to get an astronaut on the surface of the planet. This is an exciting topic to talk about and will be this generation’s Apollo moon landing, but the only problem is funding.

NASA is not getting the funding it needs—not even in the readily funded planetary science division. Since it was founded, and through much of the second half of the 20th century, NASA had a near limitless amount of funds given to them by the federal government in an attempt to gain supremacy in space over the Soviet Union.

The United States put so much into its space program in this competition that it spent the Soviet Union into the ground. After the conclusion of the Space Race, NASA has continued to research and come up with new technologies to better humankind, but as the nation’s priorities shift toward other objectives the funds are transferred.

This is not something that should be allowed to happen. The government should not be pouring all the resources it has into just one company, but gutting the funding for NASA will slow down any technological advances.

NASA has not only advanced technology, but has made strides in advancing studies in astronomy, biology, chemistry and botany. Other examples of great inventions to come out of NASA research include a lightweight breathing system for firefighters, a robotic arm that allows surgeons to use three instruments simultaneously and even an artificial heart pump that allows patients to live while they wait for a donor.

Despite these great achievements, in the last year the federal government has cut NASA’s funding. The House Appropriations Committee is considering cutting NASA’s earth science program by more than $250 million, which would leave no funding for projects such as a gapfiller satellite, and the thermal infrared free-flyer mission.

Most of the funding given to NASA is going toward planetary science, but the money is not up to par with what is needed. The government agency is not even getting enough funding to build its own ships to get American astronauts into space.

Since 2011 America has been relying exclusively on Russia to get its astronauts into to the International Space Station. This makes America dependent on another country from which it has a rocky history. It also puts America in a position to invest billions of dollars into the Russian economy.

Money invested into Russia’s economy would serve better being funneled into the pockets of the American government and society. Think of it as an investment for the future.

NASA has done a great deal to improve the life of the American people in countless outlets of life. From technological advancements to refining a school bus’s chassis, NASA was able to thrive when it was allowed. If the federal government keeps cutting its funding at the rate it has been, advancements such as these will not continue to be made and society’s technological climb will start to falter and fade. Without NASA the country will lose more than simply a way to get off the planet.