The Space Race

Introduction to the space program

The United States space program has been an important part of the achievements of the world. Interest and funding have been slowly falling. NASA is important because they research the universe we live in and they jump technology forward. Also the budget for NASA is incredibly low, compared to all of the other government agencies. Oil Prices are also at an all time high, which impacts the launching of rockets because they use so much fuel.


Cost of fuel of Saturn V rocket: $69,120,000
Saturn V rocket contained 5.6 million pounds of propellant or 960000 gallons.

The total cost of the Shuttle program has been $145 billion

$5 billion, to Space Shuttle operations

535,000 US gal in space shuttle external fuel tank
1 barrel of oil = 42 US gallons

History of the United States Space Programs

The manned US missions in space race started in 1961 with Mercury 3. The Soviet Union had already put a man in space. The Mercury program was continued for 2 years until Mercury 10 was cancelled in 1963. The next phase in the US space program was Gemini.


Project Gemini’s goal was to get 2 men in space in one ship. It started in March of 1965 with Gemini 3. Another goal for the Gemini program was docking 2 space capsules in orbit. This was successfully completed in December of 1965 with Gemini 6A and Gemini 7. Gemini was the gateway to Apollo and the moon.

The Apollo project was the program that landed man on the moon. It started with a disaster when Apollo 1 caught on fire and killed all 3 pilots. In July of 1969 the Eagle landed on the moon and the US had finally beaten the Soviets to the ultimate goal, the moon. In December of 1972 Apollo 17 was the last ever flight to the moon.

Conclusions on the Space Program

Oil Price Graph
As you can see the oil prices were steady through the 1960’s to the 1970’s was very low, and this coincided with the highest number of rocket launches in the US. In the 1980’s it skyrocketed which coincided with the lowest number of rocket launches in the US. There are projected to be more rocket launches even though oil has gone up there are more projected rocket launches in 2010. Even though oil prices will only go up there are still rocket launches.

Budget Graph

NASA’s budget is $17.3 billion in 2008. In 2008 the US Department of Education’s budget is $56 billion. In comparison NASA has one of the smallest budgets in the US government even though it has a very expensive job, to learn about our solar system and galaxy. NASA also has helped jump technology forward so it is important to keep funding for NASA.

Number of Rocket Launches Graph


During the space race the 1960’s had the largest number of rocket launches (5 in 1 year). Then in the 1970’s it
fluctuated from 1 to 4 launches. Then in the present day NASA has lost a lot of its support because space is not a topic of interest for the government or the public anymore, with that said there are still plans for the space program into the future.

NASA's Budget: Bigger or Lower?

The question of NASA's budget size is very important. NASA's budget is a fraction of the entire US budget. NASA's budget should be bigger so that we can keep learning about the universe and have technology advance farther. So an answer to the question of NASA's budget size is "yes, it should be bigger."


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