NASA Public Opinion and the Federal Budget

Bryant, Layla, Astronomy, University of Virginia
Johnson, Kelsey, Department of Astronomy, University of Virginia

This paper will explore the implications of growing economy in GDP per capita and public opinion about NASA on the budget granted to the agency each year. These trends are interesting and relevant to the Astronomy and Astrophysics community through the funding aspect and the public association of NASA with Astronomy and space. Using data from the General Social Survey, U.S. Gross Domestic Product, Office of Management and Budget, this paper explores relationships between public opinion, economic trends and NASA’s budget. Implications of this research show that if high economic trends result in more spending or if public interest and other factors have an influence on how much money the national government spends on outer space. Due to the drawbacks of GSS survey data, this paper also examines other relationships of public interest using Google Trends, most notably the solar eclipse of 2017. Findings confirm previous studies that NASA spending is infra marginally responsive to public opinion, is significantly correlated with the previous year’s GDP, and the 2017 eclipse did have an impact on searches for NASA. Implications for Space Policy include that though public opinion does not impact the NASA budget directly, important events in Astronomy can generate interest in NASA in areas that do not generally show interest. NASA can increase the transparency of the organization through education and outreach.

BS (Bachelor of Science)
Space Policy, Public Opinion, NASA, NASA Budget, 2017 Eclipse
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