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NASA’s Bill Nelson: Investing in American workers with space exploration

FILE – An American flag flies in the breeze as NASA’s new moon rocket sits on Launch Pad 39-B after being scrubbed at the Kennedy Space Center Sept. 3, 2022, in Cape Canaveral, Fla. It’s not just rocket fuel propelling America’s first moonshot after a half-century lull. Rivalry with China’s space program is helping drive NASA’s effort to get back into space in a big way. That’s as both nations push to put people back on the moon and establish the first lunar bases. (AP Photo/Chris O’Meara, File)

It has been over half a century since humanity first stepped foot on the Moon, and now we choose to go back again. This time, NASA’s Artemis program is about more than making history with extraordinary feats. It’s maintaining human presence and learning to live in deep space in preparation to go onward to Mars.

Today, we find ourselves in a golden era of spaceflight. NASA is preparing to launch Artemis I, the first uncrewed test flight in a series of increasingly complex missions that will prepare humanity for the next era in human spaceflight.

All our missions start right here on Earth, with American rockets launching from American soil, built by American ingenuity.  

NASA investments in space and science strengthen discovery and grow economic prosperity. NASA’s second agency-wide Economic Impact Report, which captures and quantifies the impact NASA has on America’s communities, from cities to the heartland. And for the first time ever, NASA has measured the economic impact of the agency’s investments in climate change research and technology.

NASA may be a small federal agency, but it packs a big punch. In fiscal 2021, NASA supported more than 339,600 jobs nationwide and more than $71.2 billion in total economic output. Not to mention, the agency’s economic impact increased 10.7 percent since fiscal 2019.

Dollars spent for space exploration create jobs, jumpstart businesses and grow the economy. We’re constantly evolving and finding new ways to add value.

NASA’s reach extends beyond our agency alone. Now a household name, SpaceX, based in Hawthorne, California, has grown from a workforce of about 500 in 2008 when NASA invested in its growth through Commercial Resupply Services, to more than 12,000 employees today. Astrobotic Technologies, a Pittsburg-based aerospace company that is a provider of Commercial Lunar Payload Services missions, part of the Artemis program, grew from 21 employees before its first NASA investment, to about 200 employees today.

The agency’s Moon to Mars campaign has supported more than 93,700 jobs — good-paying jobs — across all 50 states and more than $20 billion in economic output. It’s spurring the economy and industry to take us farther than we ever could have imagined.

NASA sets the vision for the future and the impact is immense — in communities across the U.S. and in countries around the globe. Its missions reflect American leadership, international and commercial collaboration, technological ingenuity — and economic possibility.

Not long from now, Artemis I will launch on NASA’s Space Launch System, the most powerful rocket ever built and the one capable of sending humans to deep space. The Orion spacecraft it carries will travel farther than any spacecraft built for humans has ever traveled before.

While NASA’s work will always push the limits in the cosmos, we also strengthen the planet beneath our feet. That means making a real investment in monitoring and protecting the Earth’s climate. The total amount of employment generated by NASA’s investments in climate change research and technology across the U.S. resulted in more than 37,000 jobs and provided more than $7.4 billion in economic output.

Companies like Bowery Farming, headquartered in New York City, are using techniques developed from a NASA spinoff to improve food security here on Earth. Using a vertical hydroponic system pioneered by NASA, plants absorb water, nutrient  and oxygen without using soil — and use just 2 to 5 percent of the water required by plants grown outdoors.

As more and more nations are developing space-based capabilities, it’s more important than ever to fund NASA’s research, development and exploration programs. And it’s critical that support is consistent in future federal budgets, allowing NASA to explore space, protect Earth and create opportunities for Americans.

Investment in NASA’s missions is an investment in American workers, American innovation and American competitiveness. NASA is positioning our partners in commercial space and the national economy to compete — and win — the future of spaceflight and science in 21st century as we prepare to go to the Moon, and then on to Mars.

Bill Nelson is the 14th NASA administrator. NASA just released its full Economic Impact Report, highlighting the national- and state-level impacts for the agency, from its Moon to Mars Program and its work on climate.

Tags Astrobotic Technologies Mars Moon NASA Space Space exploration SpaceX Technology

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