NASA has a big image problem. Right now we are celebrating the 40th anniversary of the first moon landing. We’re trying to do it again, on a shoe string budget. The worst part is the public doesn’t really care or know much about NASA.
Here’s some great numbers for you from 2007. A survey found that on average Americans polled believe NASA gets 24% of the national budget. This survey was a few years ago, but I doubt much has changed. To put that in perspective the largest any agency gets is the department of defense at 21%. NASA gets 0.58%, yes, less than 1% of the budget. The highest NASA has ever gotten was 5%, during Apollo. It has fallen almost every year since.
Here’s all of that in dollars. The national budget was approximately $2.7 trillion. I’m sure its more now since we’re handing out money to banks. 0.58% is around $16 billion. 5% would be around $135 billion. 24% would be an amazing $648 billion. In perspective if you added up the total budget NASA has received in current dollars it is around $800 billion for over 50 years of existence.
I’m not saying NASA should get 24% of the budget, but this year NASA is asking for %0.52 percent of the budget. Congress is complaining about that amount and trying to cut it. At the same time they are complaining that NASA doesn’t do enough, doesn’t do it well and is always having failures. I’d say with what little we have we’ve done pretty well.