NASACost Home Page Frequently Asked Questions


What is the purpose of this site?

The main purpose of is to show how relatively little funding NASA receives from the federal government and its tax payers. Public perception is that we spend far more on NASA than we actually do. For example, a 1997 poll shows that on average, the public believed that NASA received 20% of the federal budget, which is much higher than the actual value: less than 1% for that year and throughout most of their history.



What is Adjusted Gross Income (AGI)?

Adjusted Gross Income is an individual's total gross income minus specific reductions.



Why is Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) used instead of total gross income?

The IRS uses AGI for the majority of its reports. For most individual tax purposes, AGI is more relevant than total gross income, though the two amounts are usually close.



What is FICA?

FICA is an acronym for the Federal Insurance Contributions Act. It is a tax imposed on employees and employers to fund Social Security and Medicare.



Why is FICA not included in Total Federal Outlays when determining the percentage of federal outlays funded from personal income tax?

FICA is an independent federal program. FICA money is not reported by the IRS as income tax owed nor is FICA money used to fund NASA. For a more accurate estimate of personal income tax paid to NASA, FICA is excluded from the calculation.



Is the relative size of the bars accurate in Chart 1, "2009 Federal Spending Compared To NASA Spending"?

Yes, down to the last pixel.


Does NASA spending benefit citizens directly?

Yes. A U.S. Congressional mandate issued in 1958 requires dissemination of NASA research and development to the public. Since then over 1,800 technologies developed or improved by NASA have transfered to the private sector. These technologies benefit many aspects of our lives, especially in regard to science, technology, industry and education. For more information on these technologies, including a searchable database of over 1,800 spinoff technologies, visit the NASA spinoff page.


This site is not affiliated with the National Aeronautics Space Administration.