Why You Don't See NASA on This Pie Chart

If you were to create a normal-sized pie chart of the overall federal budget, NASA would be invisible. Suppose you doubled NASA’s budget. It would still fail to show up on that chart. And I am not suggesting a 200% increase. I’m proposing bumping up NASA’s budget by half.

We’ve seen the benefits of funding NASA’s missions. During the Sixties, the space program jumpstarted the satellite and weather-prediction industries; these benefits more than paid for the agency’s entire budget. In fact, the tax revenues from those industries alone are enough to pay for NASA’s current budget.

But what we saw in the Sixties is not happening today. The current NASA is pulled in different directions by Congress and the White House. Both branches have excellent reasons for their policies, though those reasons are not well articulated for the public. The problem is that the budget has not allowed NASA to go in both directions at once.