Sophont
Saturday, March 13, 2004
 
Ben Bova
Naples Daily News: "Years ago, when I lived in Connecticut, I was interviewed by a reporter in Honolulu over a closed satellite link.

'So what's the space program done for the average man?' he asked.

Without an instant's hesitation I replied, 'Your job, for example.'

Like that dumbfounded reporter, we tend to take the benefits we've received from space technology totally for granted and wonder why we're 'spending all that money in space.'

To begin with, the money gets spent here on Earth. It produces jobs not only for scientists and engineers, but for truck drivers and supermarket employees, for auto mechanics and house painters, for teachers and baby sitters. Economists have estimated that every dollar we spend on NASA is re-spent in the economy between five and 10 times. That's a considerable multiplier effect.

Secondly, the federal government does not spend a massive amount of money on space. I know that $12 billion or $13 billion is a lot of dollars, but compared to most federal programs, space is a small effort. Since NASA's creation in 1958 the space agency has been allocated some $200 billion total, less than the Defense Department or Health and Human Services gets in one year.

Most important, what we as taxpayers have invested in space technology has come back into the economy a thousand-fold in the form of new products and even whole new industries. Computers, satellite communications, a whole panoply of medical technologies, new materials for everything from golf clubs to flameproof clothes for firefighters "

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