Manned Spaceflight And Basic Research: Their Fortunes Rise And Fall Together

An ongoing debate within the United States science community pits those who favor government funding of manned spaceflight against those who believe that such funding is appropriated at the expense of smaller scientific research projects. The argument is treated on both sides as a zero-sum game, in which an absolute choice must be made between supporting, on one hand, a lot of small science programs and, on the other hand, a few large, manned space programs. Those who would protect disciplines

Harvey Willenberg
Sep 27, 1992

An ongoing debate within the United States science community pits those who favor government funding of manned spaceflight against those who believe that such funding is appropriated at the expense of smaller scientific research projects. The argument is treated on both sides as a zero-sum game, in which an absolute choice must be made between supporting, on one hand, a lot of small science programs and, on the other hand, a few large, manned space programs. Those who would protect disciplines that do not require human presence in space claim that manned spaceflight drains the budget for "real" science. However, an honest analysis of historical fact indicates that this has never been the case. Indeed, if you look at how the government has spent taxpayers' money for the past 30 years, you'll see that the fortunes of science in general and of spaceflight rise and fall together.

The federal budget...