The Circle of NASA – From Jobs to Technology & Back


With the Space Shuttle retired and the US economy in its current state, many people are wondering how both the economy and the space industry can possibly move forward.

What they aren’t realizing, however, is that the two are, or at least can be, directly related.

The simple fact is that NASA creates jobs. How? Well, it happens with a one-two punch: A new NASA program or project creates jobs all around and spinoffs create even more.

The following is information taken from studies conducted to investigate the true relationship of NASA expenditures and economic growth.

A study by Midwest Research Institute (MRI) showed that the relationship between Research & Development (R&D) expenditures and technology-induced increases in GNP were directly mutually beneficial. Each dollar spent on R&D returns an average of slightly over seven dollars in GNP over an eighteen-year period following the expenditure. Assuming that NASA’s R&D expenditures produce the same economic payoff as the average R&D expenditure, MRI concluded that a total gain of $181 billion resulted from the $25 billion (1958) spent on civilian space R&D during the 1959-69 period, with $52 billion of that coming in through 1970 and the rest continuing to stimulate benefits through 1987.

A second econometric investigation of the relationship between NASA expenditures and the U.S. economy was conducted by Chase Econometric Associates. This study consisted of two phases. The first phase used a University of Maryland input-output model to analyze short-run economic impact of NASA R&D expenditures. Using an example of $1 billion being proportionately transferred to NASA from other non-defense programs, Chase estimated that the transfer would increase manufacturing output in 1975 by 0.1 percent, or $153 billion (measured in 1971 dollars), and would increase 1975 manufacturing employment by 20,000 workers.

The second phase of Chase’s study analyzed the long-term economic impact of NASA R&D expenditures. Using a production function which related NASA R&D expenditures to the productivity growth rate in the U.S. economy from 1960 to 1974, Chase concluded that society’s rate of return on NASA R&D expenditures was 43 percent.

Lastly, the Space Division of Rockwell International conducted a third study of the macroeconomic impact of NASA R&D programs involving the relationship between NASA’s Space Shuttle program and employment in the state of California. Using an econometric model developed at UCLA, Rockwell estimated that the Space Shuttle program generated an employment multiplier of 2.8; that is, direct Shuttle employment of 95,300 man-years in California produced an increase of 266,000 man-years in total employment.

It’s a lot to take in, but the basic story is this: If NASA wants to create a new spacecraft, people are needed from almost every sector of the science and technology industry to create each and every part of that spacecraft. And after all that, even more jobs can be created as these new products are applied to technology we use right here on Earth.

The result is called a “NASA Spinoff,” and here’s a little bit about them:

“A NASA spinoff is a technology, originally developed to meet NASA mission needs, that has been transferred to the public and now provides benefits for the Nation and world as a commercial product or service. NASA spinoffs enhance many aspects of daily life, including health and medicine, transportation, public safety, consumer goods, energy and environment, information technology, and industrial productivity. These spinoffs are transferred to the public through various NASA partnerships including licensing, funding agreements, assistance from NASA experts, the use of NASA facilities, and other collaborations between the Agency, private industry, other government agencies, and academia. As of 2012, NASA has documented nearly 1,800 spinoff technologies in the annual NASA Spinoff publication.”

There’s a good chance you don’t realize just how many products out there are NASA spinoffs. Memory foam? Spinoff. Infrared ear thermometers? Spinoff. Freeze-dried food? Spinoff. Here are some more NASA discoveries that have discreetly changed your life:

As our motto goes, all it takes is one penny to launch this nation. Let’s get a Penny4NASA.

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Fight for Space Fundraising Successful

Congratulations to director Paul Hildebrandt and his crew behind the upcoming Fight For Space documentary for a successful round of public fundraising using Kickstarter! After successfully reaching the $65,000 minimum mark after less than two weeks, Hildebrandt & Co. decided to extend the fundraising to $100,000 for the remainder of the month on Kickstarter in order to secure better distribution, including a theaterical release, as well as conduct more interviews with better cameras.

Penny4NASA is looking forward to the release of this documentary with great anticipation. One of the major issues in educating the public about what NASA does is that information on space policy is not readily available or easily digested by the general public. This film promises to explore the issue and lay out the general state of NASA’s post-Space Shuttle life.

So, keep an eye out here and at for more details concerning the film’s release. As of right now, the Kickstarter campaign is not quite finished with still 20 hours to go. However, with 2,800 backers pledging $101,652, the film is definitely on its way.

Fight For Space Update

On July 20th 2012, the anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, a director named Paul Hildebrandt of Chico, California launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund his new documentary, Fight For Space: Exploring the Future of Human Spaceflight. If you are unfamiliar with Kickstarter, it is a method of crowdsourcing that allows for worthy projects to be funded by the public – anyone can contribute if they like what they see. Kickstarter is also famous for including a tiered system for rewarding those who donate to help a project. Paul Hildebrandt wanted to see if he could get the $65,000 needed to finish his documentary, which will chronicle the state of America’s manned space program and where that program is going. The Kickstarter campaign was very successful right from the start. In less than two weeks, the funding needed to finish the film was acquired. In light of that success, Director Hildebrandt decided to extend the goals of the Kickstarter campaign to include new features, some of which will be related to outreach. According to the latest update on the Kickstarter page, a new goal of $100,000 will go to the following: Continue reading