NASA Budget

Infobox NASA
name= National Aeronautics and Space Administration

caption= NASA Insignia
established= July 29, 1958 (by the National Aeronautics and Space Act)
administrator= Michael D. Griffin
budget= $17.3 billion (FY 2008) [ 2007 budget] (2007)]

Each year, the United States Congress passes a Federal Budget detailing where federal tax money will be spent in the coming fiscal year.

The following charts detail the amount of federal funding allotted to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) each year over its past fifty year history (1958-2008) to operate aeronautics research, unmanned planetary and manned space exploration programs.

Annual budget, 1958-2008

As seen in the year-by-year breakdown listed above, the total amounts (in real dollars) that NASA has been budgeted from 1958 to 2008 amounts to $592.380 billion dollars -- an average of $11.847 billion per year. According to the Office of Management and Budget and the Air Force Almanac, when measured in real terms (Meaning: if the value of $1.00 at today's rate equaled the value of $1.00 in 1958), the figure is $810.459 billion, or an average of $16.290 billion dollars per year over its fifty year history.

For comparison, the Afghanistan and Iraq Wars have cost U.S. taxpayers approximately $604 billion over the past seven years vs. the entire fifty year history of NASA expenditures. []

NASA's current FY 2008 budget of $17.318 billion represents about 0.6% of the $2.9 trillion United States federal budget.

Cost of project Apollo

As this chart shows, NASA's budget peaked in 1966, during the height of construction efforts leading up to the first moon landing under Project Apollo. At its peak, the Apollo program involved more than 34,000 NASA employees and 375,000 employees of industrial and university contractors. Roughly two to four cents out of every U.S. tax dollar (or 4% of the total federal budget -- adjusted for inflation in today's dollars) was being devoted to the space program.

In March 1966, NASA officials briefing Congressional members stated the "run-out cost" of the Apollo program to put men on the moon would be an estimated $22.718 billion for the 13 year program which began in 1959 and eventually accomplished six successful missions between July 1969 and December 1972. According to Steve Garber, the NASA History website curator, the final cost of project Apollo was between $20 and $25.4 billion in 1969 Dollars (or approximately $136 billion in 2007 Dollars). The costs associated with the Apollo spacecraft and Saturn rockets amounted to about $83-billion in 2005 Dollars (Apollo spacecraft cost $28-billion (Command/Service Module $17-billion; Lunar Module $11-billion), Saturn I, Saturn IB, Saturn V costs about $ 46-billion 2005 dollars).

Critics of Project Constellation have derided the efforts of returning to the moon (which is only part of the overall Vision for Space Exploration) as "Apollo II", "Apollo on Steroids" or "Apollo Redux".

Using the Consumer Price Index, Project Apollo would work out to about $136 billion in contemporary dollars. However, this would not be a very good measure since the CPI does not reflect the cost of rockets and launch pads.

Using the broader based Gross Domestic Product deflator gives a present cost of $117 billion. The alternative of using the wage series would be a rough measure of the labor cost in current terms of approximately $155 billion. By using the GDP per capita, the measured cost in terms of average product works out to $259 billion.

A way to consider the "opportunity cost" to society, the best measure might be the cost as a percentage of GDP, or roughly $390 billion. This amount, divided over the thirteen years that Apollo was funded would average $30 billion per year, nearly twice NASA's current annual budget of $17.3 billion for FY 2009.

However, none of these methods take into account what sort of buying power that money actually provides to NASA. When NASA was created in 1958, most consumer products (as reflected in the Consumer Price Index) were made by hand with proportionally expensive domestic labor. Nowadays, most products are mass produced and use low cost foreign labor, keeping the Consumer Price Index down.

NASA, and its contractors within the aerospace field, on the other hand, requires skilled domestic labor with little mass production. The same situation exists today. Consequently, while the Consumer Price Index gives an inflation factor of 4.82 over NASA's existence, NASA's New Start Index (which takes NASA's buying power into account) has an inflation factor of 8.35. As a consequence, NASA's total buying power has notably declined more than the budget reflects.

Adjusted by the NNSI, the peak funding during Apollo was over $40 billion per year, or approximately three times the buying power of the current NASA budget. []

Since the decline of Apollo leading into the Skylab, Apollo-Soyuz Test Project, and the Space Transportation System (also more commonly known as the space shuttle), total federal expenditures have declined to roughly 6/10ths of one percent (0.6%) of the overall budget. In view of the proposed $700 billion Wall Street bail out, an "Apollo type" program could be conducted twice, with funds left over to accomplish other space research.


According to figures and data from the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the White House, U.S. Census Bureau, the Coalition for Space Exploration, and other space advocacy groups such as the National Space Society and U.S. Space Foundation, when divided by the number of American citizens who pay their taxes on April 15, the amount of NASA's budget works out to approximately $57.10 USD per year per taxpayer -- $1.09 a week, or 15 cents a day in current 2007 spending.

However, a January 14, 2007 story appearing in the Houston Chronicle and other news media outlets have pointed out that Congress' failure to approve a new annual budget for NASA could force the agency to lay off workers, gut science programs or delay the development of the Orion spacecraft to return astronauts to the moon, legislators and space experts say. The crunch comes because Congress is freezing most 2007 spending at 2006 levels through Sept. 30. Therefore, NASA's budget will be held at $16.3 billion, more than $500 million short of the request made by President George W. Bush.

David Steitz, a NASA public affairs spokesman said the space agency is waiting for guidance from legislators on 2007 spending and the White House proposal for the 2008 budget. "It's like planning your family's budget"," he said. "Until you have the paycheck in the bank, you can't figure out what bills you're going to pay"."

On February 1, marking the fourth anniversary of the space shuttle Columbia accident, the new Democratic majority in the U.S. Congress proposed sweeping cuts to NASA's budget that could jeopardize the future of space exploration. U.S. Representative Dave Weldon, of Florida, whose district represents many workers from NASA and Kennedy Space Center, called the cuts draconian, and accused the Democratic leadership as using NASA and the nation's space program as a piggy bank for other liberal spending priorities in an issued press release.

"The raid on NASA's budget has begun in earnest. The cuts announced today by House Democrat leaders, if approved by Congress, would be $500 million less than NASA's current budget"," said Weldon. "Clearly, the new Democrat leadership in the House isn't interested in space exploration. Their omnibus proposal lists hundreds of new increases, including a $1.3 billion increase (over 40%) for a Global AIDS fund, all at the expense of NASA"."

The joint resolution that cleared the House Appropriations Committee on January 30 provides no increase for NASA over its 2006 budget of $16.2 billion. The space agency had originally sought $16.79 billion for 2007, but the budget request was tossed out when Congress decided late in 2006 to scrap all spending bills that were left unfinished at the end of the last legislative session and instead fund most agencies at their 2006 levels. According to the new budget proposal, much of the proposed cuts would come from NASA's Exploration budget, which includes funding for the new Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV), the future replacement for the current shuttle fleet. According to congressman Weldon, these particular cuts would jeopardize thousands of jobs in Florida, Alabama, and Texas.

The Coalition for Space Exploration issued a statement regarding the budget proposal on February 1, stating the funding drawdown is, "heavy blow to America's space exploration program. It will extend the gap in human space flight beyond 2014 by delaying the development of the Orion spacecraft and Ares launch vehicle. It will also extend our nation's reliance on Russia for human space flight capability"."

In a report published February 4, 2007 by Florida Today, if Congress clears a mid-year spending bill as planned, it will be the seventh time since 1994 that lawmakers have approved a cut for the nation's space agency, according to an analysis of NASA budget documents. In the past, Congress has approved these cuts to NASA's budget:

* $553.8 million in fiscal 1995
* $155.5 million in fiscal 1996
* $131.7 million in fiscal 1997
* $61 million in fiscal 1998
* $51.3 million in fiscal 2000
* $10.8 million in fiscal 2004

According to the Florida Today report, five of those cuts were during Republican-led Congresses.

Unless the U.S. Senate changed the spending levels, NASA's total budget for the current fiscal year will be about $16.2 billion, about $500 million less than the previous year's spending level. President George W. Bush had requested the Congress to approve a budget of nearly $16.8 billion for NASA, approximately $545 million more than the level included in the spending bill the House passed on February 3, 2007 by a vote of 286 to 140.

On February 14, the U.S. Senate voted for their final passage of House Resolution 20, a stripped-down spending measure that was previously approved by the U.S. House of Representatives on January 31. Its passage denied NASA and many other federal agencies a budget increase for 2007. For NASA, passage of H.R. 20 means the agency's remaining budget for the current fiscal year is capped at $16.2 billion, about $545 million less than it had requested for 2007.

Hardest hit by the recent funding cuts are the U.S. space agency's exploration program, which includes the cancellation of the Terrestrial Planet Finder and SIM Planet Quest, both managed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Both missions were are part of an ongoing effort by NASA to find earthlike planets as possible homes for life in some form. Also placed at risk is the continuing development of Project Orion's CEV and Ares 1 rocket, NASA's proposed replacement vehicles for the space shuttle program. At present, both are planned to enter service by 2014, but could be delayed at least a year or more, widening the gap between its first flight after the drawdown of the space shuttle program by 2010. Such a gap would be similar to the six-year span of time of 1975-1981 between the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project and the inaugural launch of space shuttle Columbia during the flight of STS-1.

However, as a result of the $545 million in approved cuts from NASA's original FY '07 funding request, NASA Administrator Dr. Michael D. Griffin plans to eliminate a robotic mission to the moon, cut educational programs for schoolchildren and delay development of Project Constellation. According to an April 6, 2007 story published in the Orlando Sentinel, a planned robotic mission to the moon would be eliminated in order to help free up more than $100 million in funding.

Dr. Griffin stated in a letter sent to Congress on March 15, 2007 that, "a robotic lunar lander is not absolutely required to reduce risk for future manned lunar landings"." NASA also plans to cut programs that encourage student experiments, cancel the construction of a new education complex and reduce funding for an upcoming asteroid-research mission.

On July 26, the Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations Bill for 2008 (H.R. 3093), was passed, which raised NASA's FY08 budget to $17.6 billion, a level that is $1.3 billion above the 2007 appropriation, and $290 million more than the President's FY08 request. A strong bipartisan effort garnered the approval, on July 4, of the Senate Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations Subcommittee for a comparable $17.5 billion FY08 funding level for NASA.

Despite the Bush Administration's public commitment to the space program, in the form of the 2004 Vision for Space Exploration initiative, which sets goals of returning men to the Moon, establishing a base there, and later mounting manned missions to Mars, the White House has not fully committed to funding it. The five-year projection of the budget needed annually by NASA to meet the program's major milestones, proposed by the Administration and passed by Congress in 2005, has been underfunded by more than $1 billion per year.

With a clear understanding that the science-driver effect of the space program increases productivity throughout the entire physical economy, especially in technologies and designs of infrastructure, and creates future generations of scientists and engineers, the increase in this budget can play a major role in spurring economic recovery.

Distribution by state

A November 1971 study of NASA released by the Midwest Research Institute of Kansas City, Missouri ("Technological Progress and Commercialization of Communications Satellites." In: "Economic Impact of Stimulated Technologlcal Activity") concluded that “"the $25 billion in 1958 dollars spent on civilian space R & D during the 1958-1969 period has returned $52 billion through 1971 -- and will continue to produce pay offs through 1987, at which time the total pay off will have been $181 billion. The discounted rate of return for this investment will have been 33 percent."”

This statement is plausible since those were the years when NASA’s spending on Apollo was at its height. However, NASA also invested in other programs, and they are included in the mix, so the conclusion is not as definitive as one would like. Also, a 33% Return on Investment (ROI) is not really big enough to make the normal venture capitalist go wild, but for a government program, it is quite respectable.

A 1992 article in the British science journal "Nature" reported: [cite journal
quotes =
author = Roger H. Bezdek & Robert M. Wendling
date = January 9, 1992
title = Sharing out NASA's spoils
journal = Nature
volume = 355
issue =
pages = 105–106
publisher = Nature Publishing Group
doi = 10.1038/355105a0
url =
accessdate = 2008-03-30
laysummary =
laysource =
laydate =
quote = The economic benefits of NASA's programmes are greater than generally recognized. The main beneficiaries may not even realize the source of their good fortune.

"The economic benefits of NASA's programs are greater than generally realized. The main beneficiaries (the American public) may not even realize the source of their good fortune. . ."

Other statistics and confirmation that "Space pays" may also be found in the 1976 Chase Econometrics Associates, Inc. reports ("The Economic Impact of NASA R&D Spending: Preliminary Executive Summary.", April 1975. Also: "Relative Impact of NASA Expenditure on the Economy.", March 18, 1975) and backed by the 1989 Chapman Research report, which examined just 259 non-space applications of NASA technology during an eight year period (1976-1984) and found more than: — $21.6 billion in sales and benefits; — 352,000 (mostly skilled) jobs created or saved,and;

— $355 million in federal corporate income taxes

Other benefits, not quantified in the study, include: state corporate income taxes, individual personal income taxes (federal and state) paid by those 352,000 workers, and incalculable benefits resulting from lives saved and improved quality of life. According to the "Nature" article, these 259 applications represent ". . .only 1% of an estimated 25,000 to 30,000 Space program spin-offs. These benefits were in addition to benefits in the Space industry itself and in addition to the ordinary multiplied effects of any government spending."

In 2002, the aerospace industry contributed more than $95 billion to U.S. economic activity, which included $23.5 billion in employee earnings, and employed 576,000 people -- a 16% increase in jobs from three years earlier (source: Federal Aviation Administration, March 2004).

Just 15 firms that received an initial $64 million in NASA life sciences research added $200 million of their own money and created a $1.5 billion return on investment in the form of sold commercial goods and services during 25 years. [cite web|url= |title=Measuring the Returns to NASA Life Sciences Research and Development |accessdate=2008-03-30 |last=Hertzfeld |first=Henry |date=1998-09-30 |work=Space Policy Institute |publisher=George Washington University ]

Relative to other expenditures

* [ Table 1 -- NASA's budget compared to other federal government expenditures] (1999 Data)
* [ Table 2 -- NASA's budget compared to various consumer expenditures] (1997 Data)
* [ Table 3 -- NASA's budget compared to the budgets of the 50 state governments] (1997 Data)
* [ Table 4 -- NASA's budget compared to revenues of various large corporations] (1998 Data)


* [ National Priorities Project] The War in Iraq costs
* [ Inflation Index]
* [ Budget of the United States Government, Fiscal Year 2009]
* [ Budget of the United States Government, Fiscal Year 2008] (download 08msr.pdf, see Table S-10)
* [ Death and Taxes - A visual guide to where your Federal Tax Dollars go] Proposed U.S. Federal Budget breakdown for Fiscal Year 2008
* [ The National Debt in FY 2007] - $406 Billion spent on interest payments compared to NASA at $16 Billion, Education at $61 Billion, and Department of Transportation at $56 Billion.
* [ Medicare, Medicaid, State Children's Health Insurance Program information]
* [ White House Office of Management Budget FY 2008]
* [ U.S. Census Clock]
* [ American Association for the Advancement of Science] (Research and Development programs budget extract)
* [,0,2456105.story?coll=orl-news-headlines-state "NASA chief set to cut projects"] Orlando Sentinel - Apr. 6, 2007
* [ "NASA budget $550M less than hoped"] Florida Today - Feb. 15, 2007
* [ "NASA, other agencies denied pay raise"] MSNBC and - Feb. 15, 2007
* [ "JPL faces program cuts with fewer NASA funds"] Pasadena Star News - Feb. 7, 2007
* [ "NASA Spending Plan Reflects White House Policy"] Space News/ - Feb. 5, 2007
* [ "Highlights of NASA's FY 2008 Budget Request"] Remarks by NASA Adninistrator Michael D. Griffin's during Feb. 5, 2007 press conference at NASA Headquarters
* [ "NASA's FY 2008 Budget] Full Report (4.2Mb PDF) - Feb. 5, 2007
* [ "NASA's FY 2008 Budget"] Budget Summary (710Kb PDF) - Feb. 5, 2007
* [ "NASA FY 2008 Budget"] Presentation Chart (743 Kb PDF) - Feb. 5, 2007
* [ "Congress may trim NASA budget"] Florida Today - Feb. 4, 2007
* [ "Should NASA be a spending priority?"] The Position Page: The Blog of the Orlando Sentinel Editorial Board - Feb. 2, 2007
* [ "Coalition for Space Exploration Statement Regarding U.S. House of Representatives Budget Proposal"] - Feb. 1, 2007
* [ "NASA faces budget cutbacks"] Florida Today - Feb. 1, 2007
* [ "House budget proposal could delay shuttle replacement"] Space News/ - Jan. 31, 2007
* [ "NASA announces FY 08 budget press conference"] NASA Media Advisory #M07-014 - Jan. 30, 2007
* [ "Planetary Society petitions President to save space science"] - Jan. 22, 2007
* [ "Budget crunch may dim vision for NASA's future"] Houston Chronicle - Jan. 14, 2007
* [ "IFPTE Calls for Balanced and Transparent NASA Budget Preserving Science & Aero, Core Technical Capabilities Achievable Within FY06 baseline"] - Jan. 2, 2007
* [ NASA's portion of the Budget of the United States Government, FY 2007] Office of Management and Budget Report
* [ NASA 2006 Strategic Plan]
* [ NASA 2006 Pocket Statistics]
* [ NASA FY2006 Budget breakdown]
* [ NASA FY2006 Performance and Accountability Report]
* [ H.R. 3070 - National Aeronautics and Space Administration Authorization Act of 2005] (from Congressional Budget Office, July 20, 2005 - Cost estimate for the bill as reported by the House Committee on Science on July 18, 2005)
* [ NASA Previous Years (FY2005, FY2004 and FY2003) Performance and Accountability Reports]
* [ NASA FY2003 and Previous Years' Budget]
* [ NASA Strategy based on long-term affordability] Budget Chart - Jan. 14, 2004
* [ Midwest Research Institute homepage]

See also

*Budget overrun
*Space exploration
*Vision for Space Exploration


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