With Tuesday's deadline for filing your 2011 income taxes, Discovery News got to thinking about how much of our money is going to NASA. Bottom line: not much.
As a percentage of the total federal budget, NASA's share is about half a percent. The Obama administration has requested $17.7 billion for NASA for the year beginning Oct. 1.
Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, director of the American Museum of Natural History's Hayden Planetarium in New York, points out that proportionally NASA is getting about half what it did 20 years ago.
"If I were the pope of Congress, I would deliver an edict to double NASA's budget," Tyson writes in his new book, "Space Chronicles: Facing the Ultimate Frontier."
"There's this impression that NASA has this huge amount of money and it just drives me crazy," NASA astronaut Nicole Stott tells Discovery News.
"I've always wondered, why are we cutting it? Why aren't we doubling it? Even then, it wouldn't be a full percent of what our federal budget is. Double it and actually fund it so that you can work successfully toward starting and finishing something. All this starting and stopping stuff — that's not an efficient way to go forward," she said.
Photo: NASA Administrator Charles Bolden responds to a reporter's question during an overview briefing on NASA's fiscal year 2012 budget, Monday, Feb. 14, 2011, at NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C. Credit: NASA.