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AIA makes pitch for more NASA funding

Granted the Aerospace Industries Association has a vested interest in seeing NASA’s budget increase but they still make a compelling argument for more funds for the space agency.

Since 1991, NASA’s budget has dropped by an inflation adjusted 22 percent, according to AIA’s report, Funding Our Future. The agency has  $4.3 billion less to spend in its annual budget.

The report lists unfunded priorities in areas of planetary science, astrophysics, heliophysics, Earth science, and human exploration.

The industry group argues that the United States is seeing its space leadership erode and over time that will weaken the nation’s competitive position.

There also are a technological advances to be gained such as environmentally friendly supersonic flight and a next generation air traffic control system. More NASA spending will also fuel more science and technology education, aka STEM, and there are long term benefits to that.

The arguments are compelling especially if you believe as AIA says that the United States is a spacefaring nation.

AIA said the report was inspired in part by the tradition of the Defense Department presenting a list of unfunded priorities to congressional appropriators.

AIA President and CEO David Melcher said that DOD’s testimony about these priorities often made a difference come appropriations time. NASA and other civilian agencies aren’t granted the luxury of that kind of testimony.

“Fortunately, industry is not so constrained, and we are free to seek additional resources for NASA to do great things,” he wrote in the report. “We have some good objective ideas for how best to spend additional NASA dollars.”

Unfortunately, AIA might be tilting at windmills in today’s budget environment and given the priorities of the Trump administration. But still the promise of space can be very alluring.

Posted by Nick Wakeman on Feb 28, 2017 at 1:51 PM

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