About The Author
D. R. Prescott has written a novel, a collection of short stories, a nonfiction book, a collection of essays, planetarium show/display scripts, two family histories, technical articles and business plans as well as written for and edited several newsletters.
Awards and published work include Writers' Journal, Long Story Short, Taj Mahal Review literary journal, The Orange County Register, Writer's Digest, and Writing.com and four books among other challenges.
As a former aerospace executive and planetarium program director, Prescott currently writes and explores life in Orange, California.
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"Sentience can be annoying."-DRP Abt. 1990
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Since 2008, Prescott has been a regular contributor of
essays and short stories to
The Taj Mahal Review Literary Journal
Get your copies now at: http://tajmahalreview.com/
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O R D E R   T O D A Y !
How much should we spend?
D. R. Prescott's HOMEPAGE at:



D. R. Prescott

         How much do we spend on space programs? How does spending on space compare with other things we spend money on? What good does it do for us to explore space? Should we take money from space programs and put it into other more important things right here on earth? How much should we spend on space programs?

         The first question is easy to answer. The answer is part of the public record. Out of every dollar the U.S. Government will spend in 2004, NASA’s budget is less than a penny, actually about 7/10 of a penny, or 0.7 cents.

         The next question--what we spend our government money on--is also part of the public record. In the next five years, out of every dollar, the U.S. Government is projected to spend:

Human Resources
(Education, Training, Social Services,
Employment, Health, Medicare, Income
Security, Social Security).................................. 66.4 cents
National Defense .................................................17.3 cents
Net Interest ..........................................................8.7 cents
Physical Resources
(Energy, Natural Resources & Environment,
Commercial & Housing Credit,
Transportation, Community & Regional
Development ) ....................................................4.7 cents
Other Functions
(International Affairs, Agriculture,
Administration of Justice, General
Government, Allowances) ....................................4.4 cents
NASA................................................................... 0.7 cents
General Science, Space and Technology..................0.4 cents
Undistributed Offsetting Receipts ............................-2.6 cents
Total Federal Outlays, Out of every Dollar ..............100.0 cents

         The question about what good it does to spend money on space is less publicized beyond the obvious glamour and clamor associated with newsworthy missions. Some people question going into space when we have so many problems here on earth, while others see space as a vital human frontier, filled with promise and riches. Here are some interesting things to think about when considering the positive or negative effects of spending money on space programs.

1. In California, NASA direct contracts total about $2.9 billion and over 7,000 jobs.

2. The aerospace multiplier (the economic impact throughout the state’s economy) is estimated at $18 billion. Put another way, each NASA dollar creates a six-fold to seven-fold impact on the economy.

3. Worldwide, NASA spends over $14 billion. The money spent does not go into space with the hardware. The actual materials going into space represent very little of the total cost. By far, the most is spent right here on earth, stimulating our economy, not lost in space.

4. Studying our Earth from space and the universe in general provides us a better understanding of weather systems, geological changes, environmental issues and our relationship with nature.

5. Space is huge. Earth is small and finite. Human population is growing, straining earth’s resources. There is room for virtually unlimited expansion in space.

6. Space technological developments have resulted in many medical, commercial and safety spin-offs, creating new industries and jobs while improving the quality of life for millions. Here are just a few examples.

         •Computer-based scheduling, virtual reality, microcomputers.

         •Enriched baby food, water purification, scratch resistant lenses, golf ball design, composite tennis rackets, athletic shoe materials, freeze-dried technology, and ribbed swinsuits.

         •Fire resistant materials, plant research, photovoltaic power system noise abatement, pollution control devices, air purification.

         •Digital imaging for cancer detection, laser angioplasty, programmable pacemakers, heart telemetry, ultrasound scanners, magnetic resonant imaging (MRI), automatic insulin pumps.

         •Engine lubricants, micro-lasers, advanced welding torch, machine tool software, space-based wireless communications.

         •Fireman’s lightweight air tanks, personal alarm system, radiation hazard detector, storm warning services, firefighter’s radios.

         •Studless winter automobile tires, better vehicle brakes, safer bridges. airline wheelchairs, wind shear prediction, aids for school bus design.

         Is the argument compelling that we should be spending less on space and more on problems here on Earth? Seven-tenths of a cent of every dollar the government spends on NASA would not materially enhance the 83 cents we spend on military and social programs. In fact, elimination of space spending might adversely affect the economy, not to mention the inspiration such spending provides for our young, or the scientific and technological progress it has spawned and will continue to produce. Perhaps, it might be more important to ask, “Can we afford not to go into space?”

         We have not touched on the reality that we live on a fragile, ecologically-closed system that has been repeatedly subjected to major climactic changes and impacts from asteroids and comets, all with devastating impact on its current inhabitants. Periodically, ice ages dramatically affect all of Earth’s life forms. Only a hundred years ago, something entered our atmosphere over Tunguska, Siberia, blew up and flattened trees and reindeer for miles around. Fifty thousand years ago, a rock from space made a hole, one mile across, in Arizona, known today as the Barringer crater. Ask the dinosaurs how impressed they were when a rock, six miles long, struck the Earth 65 million years ago on the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico. Wait! You can’t ask them. They’re no longer here!

         How much should we spend on space programs? That is a difficult question. Perhaps, the best way to address it is by suggesting what should be enough.

• Enough to have a positive impact on our economy to benefit from the economic multiplier, resulting in jobs in aerospace and service industries.

• Enough to make certain we avoid the total extinction of our species from an inevitable impact of something from space.

• Enough to inspire young minds who will create and enrich our tomorrows.

• Enough to generate spin-off technologies that improve our quality-of-life, spur new industries and provide new, revolutionary tools for medical treatment.

• Enough to ensure we are leaders in a future space-based economy.

• Enough to guarantee national security.

• Enough to take advantage of natural resources in near-earth orbits in the form of asteroids.

• Enough to do things that tend to make people, around the world, proud and united in a common vision of what is possible, of what it means to be human.

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