While spending on science research is not currently popular, we might remember that the United States benefited greatly from the “space race”, not from “Tang”, but from the impetus it gave our electronics and computer industries, in which we became world leaders from the early 1960’s on. To be usefully projected into space, an object needed to be small, durable and light, creating the need for solid state electronics, which are the basis for all modern electronic devices. (A cell phone based on vacuum tubes would be rather unwieldy!) Another area in which government spending (cold war) had a major impact is the Internet, which grew out of ARPA, and which has become one of the most trans-formative technologies in human history.
The space race was triggered by the USSR launch of an artificial earth satellite – Sputnik. We had the opportunity for another Sputnik moment in 1973, when we first felt the impact of being dependent on imported oil. Such a moment did not occur, and two generations later, we are even more vulnerable, and still hesitant to properly use the tools of science and engineering to achieve energy independence.