Donald Trump is expected to keep NASA’s funding flat when he takes office, but space entrepreneur Robert Bigelow urged the president-elect to double the agency’s funding if he really wants to make America great again.
Speaking at the annual Spacecom conference this week, Bigelow said increasing NASA’s funding would be good for the space industry and the United States economy. More money for the space agency would make it easier to explore the solar system, establish a new economy in orbit, and visit Mars, according to Space News.
“I propose that NASA should have, beginning in fiscal year 2019, an annual budget equal to at least one percent of total yearly federal spending.”
The latest NASA budget, submitted by the Obama administration, earmarks almost $19 billion for the space agency, less than half a percent of the entire federal budget.
Bigelow, a hotel magnate turned commercial space habitat founder, said he expects the national economy to grow significantly once Trump takes over the White House, according to Space.
“With this increase, the United States can easily afford NASA’s one percent, and even more. If you have a growing economy, it lifts all boats.”
With $40 billion in funding, NASA could do a lot of exploring in space; that funding increase would also help create more American jobs, a key Trump campaign promise.
The addition of several billion dollars to NASA’s budget would certainly help the president-elect take a giant leap forward in the private-public partnership in space, especially along the Space Coast.
The creator of the first inflatable habitat to be installed on the International Space Station argued NASA needed the funding increase to offset the changing goals given the inefficiencies of the agency’s programs, reports Nature World News.
“It is no surprise that NASA needs a greater allowance just to offset the politics, much less what’s needed to really get going.”
He isn’t the only one to say that. Since the heyday of the space program, NASA has been historically underfunded and changing long-term goals governed by the politics of whoever happened to live in the White House hasn’t helped. A government audit earlier this year suggested NASA would finish construction of its Space Launch System over budget and behind schedule because of a lack of funding and changing long-term goals.
Bigelow said he hasn’t spoken to Trump or his transition team, but he’s sure the president-elect will help boost the nation’s economy into high gear with his plan to create more jobs for Americans.
The hotel magnate is a longtime Trump supporter; his first message when he joined Twitter earlier this year was a show of support for the president-elect, according to SpaceNews.
“What this country needs is an inspirational space program. I’ll bet @realDonaldTrump could do it.”
He said Trump’s election to the White House was an early Christmas present for the country, and he compared a NASA funding increase to infrastructure redevelopment, an idea floated as one way to increase jobs.
Earlier this year, the space entrepreneur launched a Bigelow inflatable module to the ISS where it will be tested for two years. The company is currently building a larger expandable commercial space station, and its founder sees low Earth orbit as the perfect place to establish a new economy, according to Space.
“The decisions made in the next couple of years will shape the rest of human spaceflight for decades to come. How NASA transitions out of LEO, affecting costs and commercial markets, is arguably the most important decision that impacts progress for human spaceflight.”
Bigelow also said he planned to invest in a lunar economy with moon bases and industrial activity.
What do you think about increasing NASA’s funding?
[Featured Image by John Raoux/AP Images]