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NASA’s new missions: Short on insights, high on costs

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10.12.2018

Taxpayers justifiably balk at giving money to Uncle Sam without a clear purpose in mind. When free-market groups and lawmakers publish long compendia of wasteful government spending, the line-items are typically over-the-top and bereft of purpose.

Case in point: the Natural Resources Conservation Service, which spends more than $1 billion each year to seek “technical assistance, research, and education” for soil quality, grassland, rangeland, etc. But at least this service, which was featured in Oklahoma Republican Sen. James Lankford’s “Federal Fumbles” waste report, and which came under criticism from congressional Republicans, still provides some small benefit to taxpayers. It studies ground and dirt that could be useful to farmers and ranchers.

But when the federal government opts to study the ground and dirt of another planet, no such benefit is obvious.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s latest InSight Rover, which touched down on Mars recently, has the otherworldly mission to study the workings and churnings of Mars’ inner layers thousands of feet below the surface. This mission may appear to be fascinating, but it is also expensive. And for the monumental........

© Washington Examiner