For Americans, NASA has been a household name since the ’60s when it accomplished the apparently impossible, transporting and landing humans on the Moon. Since then, NASA has discovered other alien worlds like, Mars and Saturn’s moon Titan, as well as flew past every planet in our solar system.
It has accomplished so much on a very small budget. Just consider if we gave NASA hundreds of billions of dollars a year like what we spend on the US military. What more could NASA have accomplished over the years?The US already spends more on space exploration than any other nation in the world. NASA gets a big amount of this investment, the country’s primary agency for space exploration.
But this part of the budget that NASA gets is nothing compared to the overall US Federal budget. You will be surprised to know that after NASA landed the first man on the Moon back in 1969, its budget has dropped from 4.5% of the Federal budget to less than 0.5%.
So let’s imagine if NASA’s budget hadn’t minimized? And what if, its funding was similar to the US military’s?
It’s impossible to know for sure what exactly what we could have achieved, but here’s a look at how NASA’s budget compared to the US military’s in 2016.
Put another way, the military’s budget for 2016 would pay for a crewed mission to Mars with tens of billions to spare. NASA estimates it would cost $450 billion to land the first humans on Mars by the late 2030s or early 2040s.
What else might NASA do with $600 billion? Let’s look at how NASA allocated its funds in 2016. That would easily meet current costs for NASA’s biggest ongoing projects including:
Construction and launch costs for the most powerful rocket in history, the Space Launch System.
The most powerful space telescope ever built, the James Webb Space Telescope.
Partner with SpaceX on its first mission to Mars in 2018, the Red Dragon Mission.
Pay for NASA operations on board the ISS through 2024.
So, how would you have NASA spend the rest?
We can think of some ideas.