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Re: starship-design: Space Money

In a message dated 11/4/97 9:06:05 AM, david@actionworld.com wrote:

>So far the -best- NASA has ever been funded was when it was 4.4% of the
>federal budget, in 1966.  Since that time, the worst was when it was
>0.7% in 1986.  The projections for the next few years show NASA's budget
>going back down to 0.7% again.
>Imagine what NASA could do with double its budget (which would still
>only be 1.6% of the federal budget)!
>The problem is, of course, that most people really have no idea how much
>we spend on space.  When someone in the government wants to win points
>with the public by cutting the budget, space programs make an easy
>target: you just say "we're spending millions on this stuff which has no
>direct immediate benefit to you" and you've got it made!  What they
>never tell anyone is how many OTHER programs out there are getting even
>more money for even less immediate value to the public.  I think if they
>quoted percentages rather than actual dollar amounts, the space program
>would be seen in a much better light by the public.

True the public has little if any understanding of the fraction of the budget
NASA is.  On the other hand I think they are correct that NASA generally
wastes most of its budget, often for political reasons, but still wastes.

Think about it.  A space shuttle costs about a billion dollars a bird to buy,
and about the same per flight to operate.  The yearly shuttle flight expences
would buy most of an aircraft carrier a year.  The space station construction
budget is expected to run over 40 billion.  NASA likes to talk about
spin-offs, but the B-2 bomber program had far more, for far less money.

Regratably I think its the public, not us space advocates, who correctly
evaluate the costs of space.  I.E. we're geting ripped off by NASA.


For new guys who don't know, I was in the Space Shuttle, station, and NASA
headquarters contracts for about 14 years.  So I know something about what I