NASA's perpetual funding problems have been summed up satirically by The Onion, with the tongue-in-cheek article coming as the space agency renews its push to get more young people involved in STEM. Quoting made-up counsellors at NASA Space Camp, the satire news site plays on the constantly shrinking budget and how that has hamstrung projects and continues to dampen the possibility of things like manned missions to Mars.
The issue facing NASA each year is that its funding fails to keep up with inflation - not to mention with the ambitious plans it has for exploration projects. As a result, the agency has turned increasingly to the private sector for collaboration on missions, such as with SpaceX and others to look at alternative ways to get astronauts into space.
According to The Onion, though, the young people at the redesigned Space Camp get to experience the reality of being a government-funded organization. That includes "visceral disappointment" at finding a project you've worked hard on being effectively scuppered after the cash is yanked away.
"When you see the stunned expressions on these kids’ faces as they realize their goals and dreams are no longer attainable because of political pressures completely out of their control, that’s when you know they’ve gained a valuable understanding of our space program" The Onion
It's a topical joke, too, with NASA among the organizations at the White House Science Fair this past week to discuss how to encourage girls and women to get more involved with science, technology, engineering, and math.
Together with the Khan Academy, NASA administrator Charles Bolden announced a new set of interactive education lessons available online for young people, encouraging them to explore the STEM involved in missions like sending robotic rovers like Curiosity to Mars. The tutorials are being released free of charge.