NASA has been in operation for almost 60 years (charitably not counting it's predecessor organizations). It's an 18,000 employee lumbering, procedures-bound, sclerotic behemoth of an organization that has spent roughly $978 billion of taxpayer money. Its spending is highly politicized. The vast majority of that money was (in my view) completely wasted on pointless manned missions, or outright wasted on canceled or failed projects (often politically motivated). Only a tiny fraction was spent on spectacularly successful robotic explorations. The rate of progress since the race to the moon would compare unfavorably to molasses running uphill in February, in Nome, Alaska.
Here's the mystery to me: how can anyone, of any political persuasion, look at the difference in the performance of these two organizations, and argue that NASA should exist? I try to imagine what might have been accomplished with NASA's $978 billion dollars if it has been used instead to fund $2B contracts from 500 companies to do hard, practical things like SpaceX is doing – instead of whatever the hell stupid thing that NASA is doing with our tax dollars now. I can't get past a dozen or so...
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