Expand NASA funding for human progress

Emma Dowker , Photography Editor

The importance of scientific research and human progress is not usually considered a political issue. While many Americans, regardless of political ideology, find an interest in space or ocean exploration, NASA receives a small amount of America’s annual federal budget, which drastically limits the amount of research the agency can pursue, heavily limiting the potential of scientific innovation.

NASA receives less than .05 percent of the budget, about $18.4 billion in 2016. By contrast, America spends about 54 percent of the annual budget on military defense spending, which is around $601 billion. While the necessity for such an astronomical military budget is debatable, one fact is clear: If NASA had more funding, it could expand its research and explore the unknown depths of space and their otherwise unnoticed ocean exploration.

Rather than removing funds from limited education and infrastructure budgets, a small cut in defense spending would vastly increase NASA’s ability to conduct research on Earth and beyond. While some may argue that a monstrous military budget is necessary for security reasons, even the smallest transfer of funds from defense to scientific research would provide NASA with more funding and opportunity than imaginable — and the American military would still be the largest in the world by a landslide.

The American military is larger and more expensive than the Chinese, Russian, Japanese, British, French, and Indian militaries combined. While some Americans may be reluctant to decrease defense spending, this miniscule transfer of funds would barely affect defense spending. The United States is renowned throughout the world for advanced weaponry and engineering, and expanding this sophistication into the field of science would be beneficial for all Americans.

Despite continuing advancements in marine biology and sea exploration, the vast majority of the Earth’s oceans remain unexplored. Over half of the Earth is made of oceans, yet we have limited knowledge about them. The discovery of unknown species and aquatic life would not only provide major breakthroughs, but could potentially lead to advancements in medicine and technology.

For the sake of scientific advancement and human progress, reallocating a fraction of America’s defense budget toward NASA research and exploration would be beneficial for all Americans and humanity as a whole. The discovery, innovation, and advancements that could come out of accelerated scientific research is worth devoting American resources too, and the unknown realm of future possibility is unquestionably worth exploring.