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David Hamilton

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NASA - The Best Trillion Dollars Human Beings Have Ever Spent, and the Single Greatest Achievement in American History.

So… Lets start with the libertarian argument. NASA, in its entire existence, has spent only 790 billion dollars, even adjusted for inflation… And we presided over the collapse of The Soviet Union, in large part because of it. We’ve spent over a trillion dollars on Afghanistan. I think The Soviet Union, at the time we were investing in NASA, was a more credible threat than Afghanistan was a decade ago.

“Well we shouldn’t have been in Afghanistan”… Fair enough. Would Reagan have watched the Berlin Wall collapse without NASA? Would his veiled threats of “Star Wars” have sounded a bit more like the ravings of a madman if we hadn’t established a worldwide communications networks and landed on the moon? Alright… This was the cheapest, and least life consuming conflict between two enormous world powers that has ever existed.

What about the economic impact? Do you like personal computers? No business needed computers that small when NASA did most of the research that brought them into existence. Solar panels, Siemens? You mean NASA panels, and… those contractors… GPS, satellite imaging…

If you’re not a libertarian, and you don’t care about the economy, and you just want to be a flower loving hippy daisy, and live by a river making love and music? Well, if you get hurt do you want to go to a hospital? Would you like to give birth in one? X-rays, ultrasound, MRI?

Lets say we didn’t have NASA… Would our bluffs have eventually been called? We’re really not a warring people. Would bombs have dropped? If that’s the case, I’d say about five billion of us owe our lives to NASA.

Maybe humanity is ready for a human space program, funded voluntarily, by people who love science. Maybe we’d donate more than 19 billion dollars a year to it internationally… If we did. It would be the best money we ever spent.

Till we do, I'll take any NASA investment of the last 50 years, against almost anything anyone else on the planet has done, and I'll give odds.

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    Aug 10 2012: The one way to make NASA better is to make it a world wide organisation. If every country would merge their space programs into NASA and make more money available it wouldn't be Americans and Russians and the Chinese going to the ISS it would be the world going to Saturn and Jupiter's moons.
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      Aug 10 2012: I adore this answer and my darned thumbs up would not work!
    • Aug 12 2012: There was a recent discussion about cooperation and competition.

      Would all those countries be putting all that money into space programs if they did not see themselves as being in a space competition? I doubt it.
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        Aug 12 2012: Sadly that may be true, but that need's changed. Space shouldn't be viewed as some frontier where countries can get "one up" on each other.
        This is why I don't see the point of countries. Space should be seen as the greatest source of awe and inspiration for the human race.
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    Aug 10 2012: NASA budget in 2005- $16.2 billion
    ESA budget in 2005 (excluding individual countries)- $3.5 billion, (2.98 billion euros)
    Russians and India-£800 million
    Japan-1.8 billion
    China- 1.2 billion
    So roughly, $24 billion in total, that's just 5 countries and the European space agency. Now let's consider just how much money is spent by individual countries on their own space ideas within the EU alone, then you zoom out and there's the rest of the world. I'd say you could near double that amount.
    So $48 billion dollars let's just say for now. It cost NASA $2.8 billion to put a car sized rover on Mars. So what do you think would happen if you made a global space council. Pumped ALL the space funding into it and came up with $48 billion. That's enough money probably to get man to mars, titan, europa, you name it you could go there. And guess what, that would be a yearly budget which would probably increase.
    I hold this belief and I always will, as long as humans keep putting up the invisible lines which separate countries and saying that one side is better than the other then we won't progress as a species. I don't want to be Irish, British, European or any national tag you could add on, we're all humans on earth and that's that.
    This just shows that if we worked together we would achieve greatness.
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      Aug 11 2012: "Maybe humanity is ready for a human space program, funded voluntarily, by people who love science. Maybe we’d donate more than 19 billion dollars a year to it internationally… If we did. It would be the best money we ever spent."

      Exactly the answers I was hoping for, thank you Mr. Gault. I think we could kick NASA's butt if we worked together. Till then though, seriously, I can't believe anyone is against NASA, it's one of the only purely good programs we have, hehe.
  • Aug 13 2012: IMO, Humanity on planet Earth is doomed.

    Science has learned so much about our situation on this little rocky planet that we can predict almost for certain that the planet will not remain compatible with human life. We might be OK until the next ice age, or we could be hit by a killer asteroid before 2013. We should be making plans to spread humanity off planet. IMO, now.

    It seems to me that saving humanity just might be the kind of goal that could motivate the globe to unite and build a global space agency that could get the job done.
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    Aug 12 2012: This is why I like Americans. Their quest for knowledge. Their adventures to unknown. And sense of belonging in the mission they think and do. The spirit of Americans has been duly shown on the movie 'Independence Day'. Whole of American in any field had risen to the call of freedom from possible aliens take over.
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    Aug 10 2012: Hi David, as a nonAmerican, I enjoy all those technologies too but if I were Russian currently living in the aftermath I might not exactly be grateful and in the rest of the world Reagan is held accountable for more than you iterate here. So, the above is extremely interesting and all of your lettered agencies confuse me and I do not know how to separate one from another. Can you help me with that and can you tell me your opinion of the following clip for I find it compelling. Thanks for having the courage to address something so controversial.

    http://youtu.be/UrOZllbNarw
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      Aug 10 2012: I always start, from as dark a place as I can, and work backwards. Neil deGrasse Tyson taught me this trick when dealing with NASA.

      Can you make a coherent argument that The Soviet Unions conflict with the rest of the world would have ended nonviolently... Without us "winning" the cold war?
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        Aug 10 2012: No, David, i cannot.
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          Aug 10 2012: Just so I'm on record, if someone from Russia, previously The Soviet Union, can come up with a coherent strategy that could have worked out better... I would truly be fascinated to hear it. I do only have one side of the story.
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      Aug 10 2012: National Aeronautics and Space Administration

      Is the only one I used. NSA is more interesting, I wouldn't work for an organization that directly killed people though, just one that did research on space and occasionally was used as a geopollitical pawn. NSA no way. NASA : )

      The other acronyms were just for inventions, GPS is your satallite navigation for your car, and now phone. MRI magnetic resonance imaging, to look for cancer. You can't see growing tumors without a device designed to see tiny particles in space. I forgot to post the links section... but all NASA does is space.

      I don't mean that question to be rhetorical by the way, I simply can't fathom a way in which our conflict with them could have ended non violently without dramatic technology investment.