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"An Essay Concerning the Objectives of the National Aeronautical and Space Administration"
An Essay Concerning the Objectives of the National Aeronautical and Space Administration
Amy Hetzel

The United States federal government is ultimately responsible for the annual budget allotted to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) for space exploration and research. Conflicts arise when a decision must be made between economics and research development. Engineers do not want to see their important research ideas and projects fall victim to cutbacks, but it is also an engineer's responsibility to consider cost effectiveness and economics in the decisions that they make every day.

Over the past fifty years, the space program has been a topic of controversy. Society cannot decide what our position in space should be. Is outer space the "Next Frontier"? Some people believe that exploration is simply a waste of time and money. They argue that NASA has not progressed with the same fury of the 1960's when man landed on the Moon during the Apollo missions. The Space Race is long over, and therefore they believe that the space program in the United States has lost its driving force.

Problem Statement

In the mid-1990's the federal government approached NASA with regards to downsizing their budget. The space program was asked to find another source of funding, or else some of their projects would have to be eliminated all together. Naturally, the scientists and engineers at NASA wanted to avoid that possibility at all costs.

One option strongly considered dealt with private industry. Already, such companies as Rockwell and Lockheed Martin were contracted by NASA to perform intermediary functions and construction of materials and systems for different spacecraft and other payload [1]. It was suggested that NASA should turn over full control of these projects to those companies. This would reduce NASA's federal expenditure and promote private industry at the same time. Taken one step further, opinion states that the space program as a whole should be turned...

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