ASGSR is a nonprofit bringing together scientists and engineers from all disciplines, united by research that utilizes space and microgravity. Many of our projects use the International Space Station National Lab, and as such, political activism in favor of NASA and the ISS are very important to us!
In 2004, many of NASA’s space research programs were cut because of priority funding for other projects. As a result, the number of people and students involved in space research dropped dramatically (2200 scientists plus 2350 students in 2004, vs. 360 scientists plus 275 students in 2014). Now that the ISS is functional and taking on research projects, the size of the space research community (and funding for it!) must increase to make full use of the station. Research funding is limited, with a research budget of $344 million and only $22.5 million of that going to grants. Compared to the cost of the station ($150 billion), and the cost to maintain it ($3 billion/year), the amount of money for research is very low! It is important to invest more into space research to ensure that we utilize the space station to full capacity and get more return on the large investment of building the station. Furthermore, the station is set to retire by 2024, leaving only 7 years to get as many projects up there as possible. Finally, it is important that the U.S. has a plan to maintain ability to perform microgravity research even after the ISS is retired.
To read more about our political advocacy trip and see some of the pictures we took, see our blogs for previous years trips: