TEHRAN (Iran News) –After years of delays and technical problems, the U.S. space agency, NASA, has finally kick-started its costly aerospace mission using $93 billion of the American worker’s taxpayer money at a time when a large proportion of families in the country are struggling to put food on the table.
NASA had delayed the launch of the initial phase of its new space mission dubbed Artemis I for several years. In September this year, the allegedly independent space agency of the U.S. federal government said it would no longer attempt to launch the mission. There have been a number of technical issues that have prolonged a decision on the timing of the next launch attempt.
[NASA is a part of the federal government. It is not independent in the sense that a private company is independent. However, the NASA administrator alleges it doesn’t report to any other federal agency]
The space rocket mission finally blasted off from Florida for a three-week test journey without a crew, which inaugurated the U.S. space agency’s program, 50 years after Washington’s last moon mission.
Even the official launch on Wednesday faced problems, with the technical team scrambling out to the launch pad in the final hours of the countdown to avoid a potential fuel leak.
More than a decade in development with budget overruns, a recent audit found that $40 billion of American taxpayer’s money has already been spent on the program, including design, construction, testing, and ground facilities.
NASA’s Office of Inspector General has said the total costs will cost at least $93 billion of American taxpayer’s money by 2025.
Critics have slammed the price tag for a space program to try and eventually reach the moon during extremely difficult economic times for Americans with record inflation levels.
This is while the U.S. poverty rate climbed for a second straight year in 2021, rising to 11.6% from 11.5% in the prior year. That’s according to annual data released by the U.S. Census Bureau.
Last year, almost 40 million Americans were living in poverty, about 3.9 million more than in 2019. Complete data for 2022 has yet to be released but amid a rising cost of living crisis, the rate is expected to rise even further.
There has been a continuing spike in monthly poverty rates since December 2021’s monthly poverty rate of 12.5 percent. In January 2022, the monthly poverty rate remained elevated at 14.7 percent.
In January this year, child poverty stood at 17 percent. That represented a continuation of the sharp increase in child poverty from December 2021, when the monthly child poverty rate was 12.1 percent.
In 2020, more than 37 million Americans lived in poverty according to data from the U.S Census Bureau. That’s 3.3 million more than in 2019, which means the rates are rising on an annual basis and so expected to expand by 2025 when NASA’s total costs for its space program will reach at least $93 billion.
But the poverty data above does not include those who are above the poverty line and struggling to make a living. According to the Poor People’s Campaign, once low-income families are accounted for, the number of Americans struggling to make ends meet is closer to 140 million U.S. citizens.
According to Feeding America (a nationwide network of more than 200 food banks that feed more than 46 million people), there are 34 million people in the U.S., including 9 million children, who are facing food insecurity.
Other estimates suggest that more than 46 million Americans, including 13 million children and 7 million seniors rely on food pantries and meal programs to feed themselves.
The organization’s network of food banks is reporting a 90% increase or sustained need over the last month. The food banks themselves are facing mounting challenges with food donations on the decline and costs rising for freight, food purchase, and every other aspect of operations to feed the hungry. There has been a spike in online searches for food support, but more than ever before, Americans are making searches around “food” and “prices” in 2022, with searches rising 45% since last year.
A recent survey from Feeding America, a nonprofit network of 200 food banks, found that 155 food pantries reported a jump in families coming to their door.
“People coming through and they’re not just getting for their family, but they might have a sister or a brother they’re getting a little bit extra for,” Tehma Smith Wilson, who runs a food pantry in Baltimore, told CBS News.
The increase in people seeking help from food banks is also taxing pantries’ own resources. In the past, Wilson said her pantry typically received 700 boxes of food to donate; that number is now around 100
Grocery store prices have also jumped, along with the high cost of gas and other staples, which are forcing households to change the way they shop for food.
In 2020 it was estimated that around 12 million children in America were living in poverty, a burden that has disproportionately affected Black and Hispanic children, as well as those living in rural areas. Then COVID and a global economic crisis as a result of the Ukraine war forced even more parents out of work. Today, the number of children living in poverty in America is believed to be closer to 13 million.
However, poverty in America disproportionately affects black and Hispanic kids. In Maryland, Hispanic and Black families are almost 4 times as likely to face hunger compared to white families. Below are just some of the statistics.
Hispanic families are disadvantaged in New York, where 38% do not have enough food, compared to 11% of white families.
In Washington, D.C., Black families are 6 times as likely to struggle to pay bills as white families.
Nationwide, 28% of Black households, and 24% of Hispanic households that rent, are behind on their payments, compared to 12% of white households.
Also across the U.S., the country’s poorer families are worse off in comparison with the group of other high-economy countries such as poorer families residing in the European Union, Canada, Japan, Australia, and so on. In comparing poverty in the U.S. to these countries, American poverty is both more prevalent and more extreme.
The increase in food insecurity is linked to inflation with higher prices for housing, gas, and especially food. According to the last report on consumer prices, the cost of food increased 10.4 percent from a year earlier, the largest 12-month increase since 1981.
Data from the Census Bureau this year also shows that 25 million adults sometimes had not had enough to eat over the previous seven days. That was the greatest number since just before Christmas in 2020 when the pandemic continued to take a high economic toll and the unemployment rate was nearly twice what it is today.
While NASA describes its new mission as historic and a majestic launch that will see a new era of human deep space exploration and eventually put a man on the moon, critics argue otherwise.
After keeping silent on the costs for a long time, in January this year, a senior NASA official said the space agency would like to get its operational costs for a single mission a year down to $2 billion or less. Another source at the time said the internal goal was $1.5 billion. That has now reached a total of $93 billion and may rise further or fail to achieve its operational targets.
NASA is using taxpayer’s money to buy technology and also collaborate with several companies; leading them is Lockheed Martin, America’s top arms manufacturer. The program will see lucrative profits for a limited number of individuals in the U.S., at the expense of $93 billion of hardworking American taxpayer’s money.
A quick search online suggests Americans would rather see their tax being used for other initiatives such as helping the growing number of households facing financial hardship or improving the country’s crippling infrastructure.
There is also speculation that the costly mission is not entirely peaceful in nature and may well have a secret military aspect attached to it.
- source : Tehrantimes