NASA space exploration budget cut, Elon University students, faculty react with diverse opinions

Discovery will return to Earth, be displayed in Smithsonian

Marlena Chertock

MARCH 7, 2011

NASA space exploration 2011 budget is being cut. Photo courtesy of

President Barack Obama’s 2011 budget has restricted NASA’s plans to return astronauts to the moon.

The 30-year NASA space shuttle program will end in 2011 and NASA funding has been re-tasked.

NASA shuttle Discovery is on its last mission. Discovery is expected to return to Earth on Wednesday, March 9. After the return it will be retired and displayed in the Smithsonian museums.

The remaining three shuttles will also be retired this year.

The U.S. has already spent $9 billion investigating manned missions to the moon and canceling the moon program will cost an additional $2 billion.

The $19 billion in the 2011 budget will include $6 billion to fund the shift toward supporting commercially built vehicles to launch astronauts into space.

Disapproval of NASA budget cut

Space is worth pursuing, according to Ty Swaringen, a print services clerk.

“There’s too much out there we don’t know,” Swaringen said. “It’s better to know.”

Swaringen also believes in continuing what’s been started.

“We’ve spent so much money, too many lives on it in the past,” he said. “We need to keep going.”

Space exploration grants national pride, sophomore Tyler Sickel said.

“It makes a country look better if we can spend money on space,” he said.

Space exploration should continue to be encouraged and NASA’s budget shouldn’t be cut, according to Executive Assistant to the Provost Dixie Fox.

“There’s got to be life out there,” Fox said. “It would be so interesting to communicate with others out there.”

But there does need to be a balance, she said.

The money could be used to “bring down the national debt and help the elderly and students,” she said.

Junior Eliza Mathew, an education major, sees the importance of discovery.

“There’s lots of things to discover in space.” “There’s always more to explore in space, we haven’t gotten very far.”

Cutting the space budget and limiting space exploration doesn’t instill a good lesson, according to Mathew.

“I don’t think that’s teaching our society or our kids that there’s a lot of importance in discovery,” she said.

Scientists and astronauts have changed their conclusions or beliefs with more time spent in space, Mathew said. They discover and experiment more and thus learn more.

Support of NASA budget cut

There is some support of the budget cut.

“I don’t know that space exploration is (worthwhile),” said student accountant specialist Marilyn Collins in the Bursar’s Office.

Space exploration is very expensive and Earth is in trouble with budget woes already, according to Collins.

“Let us recover,” she said. “It might be good to put it off for a while.”

Sickel is disappointed in the budget cut, but he understands why it’s necessary, he said.

“There’s a few too many issues going on at home that we could spend money on instead,” he said. “The economy, in general, the stock markets, we’re spending a lot of money overseas.”


Junior Eliza Mathew, education major, on importance of space discovery

Mathew said space exploration leads to new facts