Stumbling across this cool infographic from the New York Times, I was inspired to apply some of the same design principles to historical NASA budget data I’ve been keeping.
Long term budget planning is an interesting Federal dynamic. The battle between administration priorities and legislative branch priorities is starkly evident when executive branch hopes and dreams (or sometimes, nightmares) in five year budget plans are compared with the actual funds appropriated by Congress each year. Read more
One of the features of long term trends in federal spending which has always amazed me is the ~20-year “defense cyclical”. Peak to peak, the national discretionary defense investment changes by nearly $200B in inflation-adjusted dollars (ten times the NASA budget, for comparison). This isn’t all wartime mobilization; a significant part of the “signal” is major, planned recapitalization (investment) initiatives. These initiatives often stimulate R&D throughout the aerospace sector, still a primary source of net exports in the U.S. economy. Read more
I don’t plan to use this space often to write about work-related topics, and think it would be inappropriate to do so for anything within NASA’s current congressionally authorized mission. There are, however, a couple of “far downstream” topics I do feel strongly about, and occasionally will hit them here. So long as no one on the Hill is (yet) paying us to work them, I believe they’re fair game for a private blog.
A Game-Changing Capability
Politics-willing, within the next decade the United States will regain a strategic capability it lost nearly 40 years ago when we ended the Apollo (and Saturn) programs, namely truly heavy-lift launch capabilities. Read more
NOTE: An updated 2011 version of this visualization is available at: