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Unformatted text preview: Largent 1 Michael Largent Mr. Boyt Advanced Writing 12 November 2008 To the Moon and Beyond T-minus Five…Four…Three…Two…One…Houston, we have no money! As the years go by, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) struggles more and more to receive funding from the United States government. While the U.S. is fighting two wars in the Middle East and the economy is grinding deeper and deeper in a recession, space and aeronautical exploration may seem less and less important to our country. Although NASA had successful missions during the Apollo Flights, recent failures within the shuttle missions have portrayed NASA to be more dangerous and unreliable than beneficial to the United States. However, NASA is currently undergoing major changes that could end up allowing NASA to become a more safe and reliable organization with government help. Therefore, NASA can once again become a valuable agency to the United States with more funding from the government. Currently, the main focus of the government’s budget is to fund the War in Iraq, War in Afghanistan, and the failing economy. In 2008, the United States is expected to spend approximately $193 billion on these wars alone. In addition, the Joint Economic Committee has projected that the U.S. government could end up spending $3.5 trillion in Afghanistan and Iraq by 2017, roughly making each U.S. citizen pay $830 per year (Teslik par. 5-11). The economy has also contributed to a large portion in the government’s recent spending. Recently, to keep the U.S. economy out of a recession, the government spent $700 billion on a bailout package to Largent 2 buy out the failed mortgage loans given out by mortgage companies. Due to the focus on these economic and global challenges, NASA’s funding from the government has started to dwindle. With the large amount of money spent on the troops and the economy, there is very little funding left for NASA. To further understand NASA’s importance to Earth, however, an overview of their history must be observed. NASA was first established in 1958 by Dwight D. Eisenhower, responding to the Soviet Union’s launch of Sputnik. Throughout the 1960’s under President Kennedy, NASA used the Apollo Missions to send men to the moon. In 1969, the United States became the first and only country to land men on the moon, exciting the nation and propelling America into a whirlwind of space exploration. Following the Apollo Missions, NASA began using the space shuttle instead of rockets. Currently, the space shuttle has had 120 successful flights since its debut in 1981. Internationally, the United States is one of sixteen nations contributing to the labor of building the International Space Station. Besides manned trips in space, NASA also successfully provides rover exploration of Mars’ terrain (“What does NASA do?” par. 1-5). Although NASA has had several successful missions, there have been a few failures that have tarnished the organization’s proud reputation. One main failure was when the space shuttle Challenger broke up during launch on January 28, 1986, losing a seven-member crew (Mahone and Savage par. 3). Another failure occurred in 2003, when the space shuttle Columbia lost its entire seven member crew as the shuttle disintegrated upon re-entering the Earth’s atmosphere. This was due to a hole in the left wing’s leading edge, created during liftoff on January 16, 2003 (“Columbia Overview” par. 5). Also, several space shuttle missions, including an upcoming mission, have been needed to repair the Hubble Space Telescope which is used to take pictures of deep space. In the near future, the space shuttle Atlantis will make a final servicing mission to Largent 3 the telescope (“Final Mission to Hubble” par. 1-4). The several service missions to the failing telescope have, in turn, cost the organization millions of dollars. With these failures and unpredicted spending, NASA’s purpose and funding has started to be questioned. Despite NASA’s controversial background, NASA has several future missions expected to advance our understanding of space and aeronautics. One prime mission from NASA is the retirement of the current space shuttle program and the creation of a new spacecraft to send men into space. The current shuttle system, although rather successful, has had several disasters in its history that show that the space shuttles unreliable. Currently, work on the space shuttle replacement vehicle is underway under the new Constellation program used to return astronauts to the moon. The Ares I and Ares V rockets are a part of the shuttle replacement, along with the Orion spacecraft. Together, the Ares I and the Orion spacecraft plan to return men to the moon in the year 2020. Later, the Ares V rocket plans to send supplies into orbit for future trips to the moon and eventually Mars (“Ares Engine Tests” par. 1-3). As a result of these future missions, NASA can once again show that space exploration is necessary and beneficial, thus justifying their requested funding. In addition to returning men to the moon by 2020, NASA also hopes to advance their robotic exploration of the solar system, including Mars and the moon. With these future robotic missions, the scientists at NASA hope to learn more about the environment and content of each planet or moon. As a result, NASA can use these “scouts” to determine if life could exist, and if men should ever explore the planets. Also, NASA scientists are engineering a Crew Exploration Vehicle used to send astronauts beyond low earth orbit. This has now been a major goal of NASA, along with the Orion-Ares program, since the decision to retire the space shuttles in 2010. Eventually, a Crew Exploration Vehicle can send astronauts into orbit easier, and allow Largent 4 the astronauts to have more control of the spacecraft while in space. This craft would then act more like an airplane flying in space than when the previous shuttles harnessed the gravitational pull from the Earth to stay in orbit (“What does NASA do?” par. 13). Although NASA’s current and future missions and equipment seem extraordinary, the cost to pay for the shuttles, rovers, telescopes, and future programs is an immense burden to the science organization. According to NASA’s Space Shuttle and International Space Station Center, the cost of space shuttle Endeavour, built to replace the Challenger after its destruction in 1981, was approximately $1.7 billion. In addition, the cost to launch each shuttle into orbit is approximately $450 million (par. 1-11). The Hubble Space Telescope also uses a large sum of NASA’s budget. After its launch in April 24, 1990, NASA spent $347 million on one servicing mission alone. Additionally, $448 million was spent by NASA on using the shuttle to send men and equipment to fix the Hubble Space Telescope (Jones and Savage 1-2). Rovers, travelling to Mars and other planets or moons, are a main component in NASA’s spending. The recent Phoenix Lander mission to Mars cost NASA roughly $386 million for the entire program, including the launch, vehicle, equipment, and other components (“Phoenix Mars Lander 2007” par. 9). Future missions, including the Orion-Ares trip to the moon are also very costly elements to expanding the NASA organization. The Orion-Ares project, whose total project cost is unknown, will receive a total of $4 billion from President Bush to jumpstart mission in 2008 (Perlman D1). To pay for all of the magnificent programs, missions, equipment, research, and personnel, NASA has requested a total sum of $17.6 billion for the year 2009. The amount of money requested by NASA for 2009 can be broken into several sub-categories. Sciences including earth sciences, planetary sciences, astrophysics, and heliophysics will receive $4 billion for Largent 5 research and educating students in these sciences. The aeronautics department has requested a total of $446.5 million to advance NASA’s flight science programs throughout the country. Additionally, NASA has requested $3.5 billion to start the Constellation project, sending men to the moon with the Orion-Ares spacecraft, and advancing the capabilities of their research facilities. Similarly, NASA wishes that $5.7 billion be given to space operations. This will pay for the space shuttle repairs and launches, international space station missions, and space and flight support. Last but not least, NASA has requested $115.6 million solely for the education of aerospace students, employees, and even astronauts at training facilities across the country (“2009 Budget Request" 7). Despite NASA’s budget request of $17.6 billion, without the government to fund the program, NASA will no longer exist. According to David Perlman, George W. Bush plans to give NASA a total of $13.4 billion. This proposed funding is approximately $4.2 billion shy of NASA’s request (D1). Additional problems arise based on past and upcoming aeronautic research funding. In 2005, the funding for NASA’s aeronautics research dropped from only $1.06 billion to $906 million. Future budget drops show that the funding could drop to $718 million by 2010 (“NASA funding waning” par. 30). If this trend continues, future missions similar to the Constellation Program may not have the government funding for research and development. To understand the reason for this somewhat pricey organization, the cost of NASA needs to be justified by the benefits the agency has contributed to the America, world-wide, and to the space community in its 50 year history. Since congress created NASA in 1958, NASA has landed on the moon 6 times, observed the Earth’s climate and geology, and launched the Hubble Space Telescope (“Appreciation: Happy 50th, NASA” par. 2). In addition, while NASA was Largent 6 sending men to the moon in 1969, students in the United States were ranked at the top of the world in math and science. According to the Space Exploration Alliance, “NASA’s mission of human and robotic space exploration can inspire young people and the public, as well as the aerospace industry, and spur the creation of businesses and jobs”(“Space Exploration Alliance to Boost NASA Funding” par. 1). Consequently, industries such as Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Gunman, and Kaytheon predict that American space leadership could be lost for a generation without funds (“Contractors Urge Increase in 2008 Funding” par. 3-5). Also, despite the huge strides NASA has made with space launches, the agency has also contributed to the world by contributing to the International Space Station and space science in general. Even on a much smaller scale, NASA created Tang, used by astronauts in space and now in the households of American families. As a result, the end of NASA could cause America to fall behind other countries in mathematics and science, end advancements in military and commercial aircraft or spacecraft, and also lose climate information on the changing Earth. Based upon the apparent lack of government funding given to NASA, NASA had to shrink missions and research projects, compromising the future of space exploration. With so much of the government money being shoveled into the War in Iraq, War in Afghanistan, and the United States’ failing economy, many people like myself wonder how much longer NASA will be around to provide advancements in aeronautics. Because I hope to work as an aerospace engineer for agencies like NASA, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and Northrop Gunman, I believe NASA should receive more funding from the government. The two wars in the Middle East require too much government money to fund and, by comparison, NASA should receive more funding because ultimately, they are contributing more to America and the Earth than most organizations. Without NASA, space and aeronautical science could not advance, and the ability Largent 7 to identify and explore planets and moons in the solar system for inhabitable environments could be terminated. Largent 8 Works Cited Teslik, Lee Hudson. “Iraq, Afghanistan, and the U.S. Economy.” Washingtonpost.com. 4 Feb. 2008. Gale. 28 Oct. 2008. <gale.findgroup.com>. “What Does NASA Do?” About NASA. 9 Mar. 2008. 28 Oct. 2008. <http://www.nasa.gov/about/highlights/what_does_nasa_do.html>. Mahone, Glenn and Donald Savage. “Space Shuttle Challenger Crew Memorialized on Mars.” NASA News. 28 Jan. 2004. 28 Oct. 2008. <http://www.nasa.gov/home/hqnews/2004/ jan/HQ_04043_MER_Challenger_Memorial.html>. “Space Shuttle Overview: Columbia (OV-102).” NASA Orbiter Fleet. 31 Jan. 2005. 26 Oct. 2008. <http://www.nasa.gov/centers/kennedy/shuttleoperations/orbiters/ columbia_info.html>. “STS-125: Final Mission to Hubble Telescope.” Mission Information. 26 Oct. 2008. <http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/hubble/servicing/SM4/main/index.html>. “NASA completes first Ares engine tests.” UPI NewsTrack. 12 May 2008. Gale. 24 Oct. 2008. <gale.findgroup.com>. “Kennedy Space Center.” Frequently Asked Questions. 25 Oct. 2008. <http://www.nasa.gov/centers/kennedy/about/information/shuttle_faq.html#13>. Jones, Tammy and Don Savage. “Hubble Facts.” National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Dec. 1996. 25 Oct. 2008 <http://www.gsfc.nasa.gov/gsfc/service/gallery/fact_sheets/pdf/hst-cost.pdf>. “NASA’s Phoenix Mars Mission Gets Thumbs Up for 2007 Launch.” Mission News. 2 Jun. 2005. 24 Oct. 2008. <http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/phoenix/news/phoenix-060205.html>. Largent 9 Perlman, David. “Forum to debate U.S. space goals; Some experts doubt practicality of pricey base on the moon.” San Francisco Chronicle. 11 Feb. 2008: D1. Gale. 27 Oct. 2008. <gale.findgroup.com>. “FY 2009 Budget Request Summary.” National Aeronautics and Space Administration. 5 Feb. 2008. 28 Oct. 2008. <http://www.nasa.gov/pdf/ 210020main_NASA_FY09_Budget_Estimates_Summary.pdf>. “NASA funding waning for aeronautics research.” The Orlando Sentinel. 28 Feb. 2005. Gale. 26 Oct. 2008. <gale.findgroup.com>. “Space Exploration Alliance Wants To Boost NASA Funding; The group also is trying to raise awareness about a five-year gap between the retirement of the space shuttle and the first flights of the Constellation program.” Information Week. 19 Feb. 2008. Gale. 24 Oct. 2008. <gale.findgroup.com>. “Obama backs $2 billion NASA funding.” UPI NewsTrack. 19 Aug. 2008. Gale. 28 Oct. 2008. <gale.findgroup.com>. “Appreciation: Happy 50th, NASA.” PC Magazine Online. 1 Oct. 2008. Gale. 27 Oct. 2008. <gale.findgroup.com>. “Contractors Urge $1.4 Billion Increase In 2008 NASA Funding Or ‘Risk An Epic Failure’ In Space Leadership.” Satellite News. 28 May 2007. Gale. 25 Oct. 2008. <gale.findgroup.com>. ...
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