Increasing funding in US space initiatives

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Xee

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Well, I suppose this post is a bit different from the rest.

I'm an accounting student working on an assignment for my Nonprofit & Governmental Accounting course. Our professor wants us to select and examine a contemporary issue relevant to a committee in either the federal or local Senate or House of Representatives then draft a memo to the chair of that committee with our argument for a policy change (it's not going to be sent).

Wanting to find something that would make this assignment interesting, and being a sci-fi nut, my proposal was to increase spending in space initiatives by cutting the defense budget. Now I just need to narrow it down. Anyone know where I might go to do some background reading on current/past space programs? Or, looking at it another way, if money was freed up specifically for the use of space programs, where do you think it should go?

I'm not looking for anything too detailed. Just something to point me in a general direction so I know where to start researching. Thanks!
 
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Valcan

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Why do people always pick defense why not entitlment programs? :roll:
They use up far more of our national budget.
 
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Xee

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Valcan":ijfkv6pl said:
Why do people always pick defense why not entitlment programs? :roll:
They use up far more of our national budget.
Because reading about defense would be more interesting than reading about welfare.

There are other reasons of course but I don't want to turn this into a political debate. Just looking to find more info on promising space initiatives that could use more funding.
 
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rcsplinters

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Xee,

I'd start by googling for technology spinoffs from the space program from the apollo and early shuttle era. NASA was really pushing technology in those days, particularly minaturization and materials science. Many contend the moon missions were essentially free in that the spin offs paid for the program in later years. I'm a bit dubious about that, but the nation has reaped tremendous benefits economically and world leadership from those early programs. I'd then make the case that we stand on that cusp again. The US is on a course to once again leave earth orbit and the key barrier is money. While you'll see a lot of banter about boosters and a lot of whining about costs on this and other boards don't get bogged down in that stuff as there is really no new game in town with respect to boosters to LEO and technology. The new frontier, big money and the big opportunity is in orbital and BEO propulsion, shielding (think materials) and human factors (isolation, health, etc.) technologies. For example, ion based propulsion would seem very valuable if properly developed. The spinoff could be very high efficiency reactors to produce electricity for those engines. This development will cost untold billions, some from the commercial sector and some from federal and international sources. Funding for such technology maturation would be a key benefactor for your NASA budget lift exercise. So where's the payoff? Energy efficiency, new materials spawn new industry, medical advances and other such things drive the economy and cause growth which equates to federal revenues. In essence you borrow from a government source and drive revenue for all government programs. Yes, I too think the military is the worst place to get the funds as its one of our best jobs programs and it has the same effect on driving technology that NASA does. (Of course, keeping us all safe and free has a certain unmeasurable intrinsic value. :D ) However, I understand that it probably makes for a better and simplier academic discussion.


Good luck with your project. In doing it, I expect you'll learn why many of us are so passionate about our space program.
 
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