NASA's projected 2012 budget will be an estimated $17.7 billion. For some people, that's just not enough.
The $17.7 billion figure is only 0.48 percent of the estimated 2012 United States federal budget. A petition on the Whitehouse website would have NASA's budget more than doubled, to a full one percent of the federal budget.
The petition had 4,798 signatures at the time of writing. It needs 20,202 signatures to garner an official response from the White House.
The petition was started on behalf of Penny for NASA, a movement that seeks to increase NASA's budget and thereby increase interest in science, technology, engineering and math subjects in school.
The movement's official statement reads, "Penny for NASA acknowledges the difficult global economic times and offers a feasible solution to NASA’s shortage of funding. The agency currently receives four tenths of a penny on every tax dollar.
"We hope to raise that to a single penny. Doing so would not only allow for more money to be spent on the space program but would do so without any major financial impact to the rest of government."
The website cites popular astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson for that claim. In a 2011 appearance on Real Time With Bill Maher, Tyson said, "First of all, let’s clarify what the NASA budget is. Do you realize that the $850 billion dollar bailout, that sum of money is greater than the entire 50-year running budget of NASA?"
Tyson continued, "It’s not that you don’t have enough money, it’s that the distribution of money that you’re spending is warped in some way that you are removing the only thing that gives people something to dream about tomorrow."
Increasing the NASA budget to one penny on the tax dollar would drive innovation and economic growth, according to Penny for NASA.
"If we want to invest in our future, we must fund NASA at higher levels," reads the petition at Whitehouse.gov. "Tomorrow is gone without NASA. Please at least double NASA’s annual budget, and continue to support the most inspirational program in the country."