$18.724 billion (Fiscal Year 2011, about 0.5% of total budget at about $3 trillion)
Each year the United States Congress passes a Federal Budget detailing where federal tax money will be spent in the coming fiscal year.
The following charts detail the amount of federal funding allotted to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) each year over its past fifty-year history (1958–2008) to operate aeronautics research, unmanned planetary and manned space exploration programs.
Seen in the year-by-year breakdown listed below, the total amounts (in nominal dollars) that NASA has been budgeted from 1958 to 2011 amounts to $526.18 billion—an average of $9.928 billion per year. By way of comparison, total spending over this period by the National Science Foundation was roughly one-fourth of NASA's expenditures: $101.5 billion, or $2 billion a year. NASA's FY 2011 budget of $18.4 billion represented about 0.5% of the $3.4 trillion United States federal budget during that year, or about 35% of total spending on academic scientific research in the United States.
According to the Office of Management and Budget and the Air Force Almanac, when measured in real terms (adjusted for inflation), the figure is $790.0 billion, or an average of $15.818 billion per year over its fifty-year history.
History of NASA's annual budget (millions of US dollars)
NASA's budget peaked in 1966, during the Apollo program
NASA's budget peaked in the period 1964-1966, during the height of construction efforts leading up to the first moon landing under Project Apollo which involved more than 34,000 NASA employees and 375,000 employees of industrial and universitycontractors. Roughly 4% of the total federal budget was being devoted to the space program.
In March 1966, NASA officials briefing Congressional members stated the "run-out cost" of the Apollo program, aimed at achieving a manned lunar landing, would be an estimated $22.718 billion for the 13-year program, which had begun in 1959. According to Steve Garber, the NASA History website curator, the final cost of project Apollo was between $20 and $25.4 billion in 1969 Dollars (or approximately $136 billion in 2007 Dollars). The costs associated with the Apollo spacecraft and Saturn rockets amounted to about $83-billion in 2005 Dollars (Apollo spacecraft cost $28-billion (Command/Service Module $17-billion; Lunar Module $11-billion), Saturn I, Saturn IB, Saturn V costs about $ 46-billion 2005 dollars).
Economic impact of NASA funding
A November 1971 study of NASA released by the Midwest Research Institute of Kansas City, Missouri ("Technological Progress and Commercialization of Communications Satellites." In: "Economic Impact of Stimulated Technological Activity") concluded that "the $25 billion in 1958 dollars spent on civilian space R & D during the 1958-1969 period has returned $52 billion through 1971 -- and will continue to produce pay offs through 1987, at which time the total pay off will have been $181 billion. The discounted rate of return for this investment will have been 33 percent."
A map from NASA's web site illustrating its economic impact on the U.S. states (as of FY2003)
A 1992 article in the British science journal Nature reported:
"The economic benefits of NASA's programs are greater than generally realized. The main beneficiaries (the American public) may not even realize the source of their good fortune. . ."
Other statistics on NASA's economic impact may be found in the 1976 Chase Econometrics Associates, Inc. reports ("The Economic Impact of NASA R&D Spending: Preliminary Executive Summary.", April 1975. Also: "Relative Impact of NASA Expenditure on the Economy.", March 18, 1975) and backed by the 1989 Chapman Research report, which examined 259 non-space applications of NASA technology during an eight-year period (1976–1984) and found more than:
— $21.6 billion in sales and benefits;
— 352,000 (mostly skilled) jobs created or saved,and;
— $355 million in federal corporate income taxes
According to the "Nature" article, these 259 applications represent ". . .only 1% of an estimated 25,000 to 30,000 Space program spin-offs."
In 2002, the aerospace industry accounted for $95 billion of economic activity in the United States, including $23.5 billion in employee earnings dispersed among some 576,000 employees (source: Federal Aviation Administration, March 2004).
As with most projects and public and government funded programs and business the will and opinions of the people can have a major effect on the future of those projects and businesses. As Abraham Lincoln once said "With public sentiment, nothing can fail; without it nothing can succeed." NASA is one of the major government funded programs that is under close scrutiny by the public. The budget of NASA tends to fluctuate with the public opinion and previous failures and successes that NASA has had. During the mid to late-1960's was the highest NASA has seen with it being 4.41% of the U.S budget. With the near disaster of Apollo 13 in the early 1970s the budget of NASA took a turn for the worse and started on a steady decline till it was about 1% of the U.S budget from 1970-1990.
The American public perceives the NASA budget as commanding a much larger share of the federal budget than it in fact does. A 1997 poll reported that Americans had an average estimate of 20% for NASA's share of the federal budget, far higher than the actual 0.5% to under 1% that has been maintained throughout the late '90s and first decade of the 2000s. It is estimated that most Americans spent less than $9 on NASA through personal income tax in 2009.
However, there has been a recent movement to communicate discrepancy between perception and reality of NASA's budget as well as lobbying to return the funding back to the 1970-1990 level. The United States Senate Science Committee met in March 2012 where astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson testified that "Right now, NASA's annual budget is half a penny on your tax dollar. For twice that—a penny on a dollar—we can transform the country from a sullen, dispirited nation, weary of economic struggle, to one where it has reclaimed its 20th century birthright to dream of tomorrow." Inspired by Tyson's advocacy and remarks, the Penny4NASA nonprofit was founded in 2012 by John Zeller and advocates the doubling of NASA's budget to one percent of the Federal Budget, or one "penny on the dollar."
^NASA Historical Data Books (SP-4012), Volume VI: NASA Space Applications, Aeronautics and Space Research and Technology, Tracking and Data Acquisition/Support Operations, Commercial Programs, and Resources, 1979-1988, Compiled by Judy A. Rumerman, 1999, Reference: Chapter 7: NASA Personnel, Table 7-1 (Titled: Total NASA Workforce (at end of fiscal year), Page 468 Link: http://history.nasa.gov/SP-4012/vol6/cover6.html