Planetary Radio • Dec 02, 2022

Space Policy Edition: NASA's Economic Impact with Alex MacDonald and Joshua Drucker

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On This Episode

Josh drucker portrait

Joshua Drucker

Associate Professor of Urban Planning and Policy at the University of Illinois Chicago

Alexander macdonald portrait

Alexander MacDonald

Chief Economist, Office of the NASA Administrator

Casey dreier tps mars

Casey Dreier

Chief of Space Policy for The Planetary Society

Kaplan mat headshot 0114a print

Mat Kaplan

Senior Communications Adviser and former Host of Planetary Radio for The Planetary Society

NASA supports nearly 340,000 jobs spread throughout every state in the union, generates billions of dollars of tax revenue, and invests in critical high-tech, high-skilled workers. But how do we know this? A new report, prepared by a team at the University of Illinois, Chicago and sponsored by NASA's Chief Economist, provides the sound economic analysis behind understanding the immense benefit of the U.S. space program. We dive into how this analysis is done, how to interpret the results, and why this information is critical for developing good space policy.

NASA's Vehicle Assembly Building at Sunrise
NASA's Vehicle Assembly Building at Sunrise The Sun rises next to NASA's Vehicle Assembly Building prior to the first launch of astronauts aboard SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft in May 2020.Image: NASA/Joel Kowsky


Mat Kaplan: Welcome everyone once again to the Space Policy Edition of Planetary Radio. We are delighted to have you on board. I am Mat Kaplan and I regret to say that this will be the last time, as far as I know, that I will be joining Casey Dreier for the Space Policy Edition. Although, SPE has a bright future ahead of it. Casey, chief advocate and Senior Space Policy for The Planetary Society. Welcome once again Casey, and probably for the last time with me.

Casey Dreier: Mat, you preempted my acknowledgement of this. This is a very frightening time for those of us at The Planetary Society who have depended on Mat Kaplan to lead us in our podcasting and radio efforts and production and everything. So Mat, I don't know what to say. This is our last show together. You will still be around, we should emphasize, helping the society, but as regular listeners know, you've handed the baton over to our colleague, Sarah Al-Ahmed, who will be running the regular show. And then I will forge forward somehow in the Space Policy Edition. So this will continue, but it just won't be the same. So Mat, I just want to thank you before we start for indulging me on this idea of doing a special Space Policy Edition version of the podcast, which was I think six years ago now and that you just graciously accepted all the extra work that it took to make it. So I could not be more appreciative and we will miss you very much on this show.

Mat Kaplan: Thank you so much, Casey. I will very much miss doing this with you. Six and a half years, but who's counting. It has been such a blast. I have learned a lot. I'm sure the audience has also done that. I think I was already a bit of a policy geek, certainly not to the degree that you are and others in our audience and your guests that we have had on the show, including the two excellent guests that we're going to welcome to the program in just a couple of minutes here. It has been fascinating and I look forward to continuing to listen to the Space Policy Edition, which may go through its own evolution in the coming year, making it even more interesting, but it's not going away. So thank you for allowing me to be part of this.

Casey Dreier: Mat, the pleasure was all mine. So maybe one last time, do you want to pitch, one last time, to potential members and potential supporters of The Planetary Society Space Policy Edition for old time Sake?

Mat Kaplan: I am always ready to pitch to our faithful listeners out there. If you're listening and if you have listened for any portion of those six and a half years, maybe the entire six and a half year history of SPE, well you get it. You know what we're about here. You obviously get something out of it if you've stuck with us through all of this geeky conversation. It's time to step up if you haven't already. If you remember, if you're a donor to the society, if you're already supporting our wonderful policy and advocacy efforts that Casey leads, well, thank you so much. This is that time of year when we need to be thankful and express our thanks. If you have not, I sure hope that you will take a look at, look at all the benefits, look at how you will help us to continue this program, and everything else that The Planetary Society is up to by becoming a member. That is the best way that you can become part of everything we do and support everything that we do. So there's the pitch. It's now up to you folks.

Casey Dreier: Mat, I'm sold. Let's do it. If I weren't already a member I would join as a member again and I was a member for many years beyond that. Mat, we got a great show today. I just want to pitch who we'll be talking to before we get into a few newsy updates. But I don't know if you heard, but NASA has a new economic impact report.

Mat Kaplan: Yes.

Casey Dreier: It's probably not the number one best seller yet, but who knows. Maybe after the show it will be. It's a decent new report. We have a double guest feature today, which is exciting. This is I think the first time we've had two people on at once, which for me was exciting. We have Joshua Drucker who is the associate professor of Urban Planning and Policy at the University of Illinois Chicago. He's one of the co-authors of this new NASA economic impact report. We have Alex MacDonald who is the chief economist of NASA and spearheaded the effort to put this report together. This is just fodder for data guys like me and everyone who loves to see the numbers and they do a very detailed, thoughtful, and open analysis of how NASA economically benefits literally every state in the union. And this report goes into it. We talked to them about how they put it together, what it means, and what the headline numbers are. So stay tuned for that coming up in just a few minutes.

Mat Kaplan: It is a terrific conversation. I highly recommend sticking around. But before that, Casey, we've been teasing people for a while now that you would be talking to them, bringing them your thoughts, your analysis, of the recent election results, the midterms here in the United States. I do want to call everybody's attention to the article that Casey has posted. He posted it just a couple of days ago at What the 2022 midterm elections mean for NASA. I've learned a lot from the article and I look forward to hearing you expand on it or at least give us a little taste of it, Casey, right now. What conclusions, if any, are you able to reach now that we're a couple of weeks passed?

Casey Dreier: Yeah. Now we actually know who the winners were. We speculated in our last episode with Bethany Jones of course. And I think actually we were pretty accurate in what our assumptions were. The Democrats will narrowly retain the Senate. There is still a runoff yet to happen at the time of our recording. It won't determine who controls the Senate, but it could give a slight advantage to Democrats in terms of majority. And the Republicans narrowly captured the House of Representatives. What this means is not a lot changes in terms of who leads some of these key committees that we're interested in. The real change in those happens due to retirements, not because people were kicked out of office through elections. The consequence of divided government, I think this is the takeaway to hear, is things are going to slow down. When a party controls the House or the Senate, even if a one vote majority, that means they get to control the schedule. They get to control the calendar. They get to control what the focus of their investigations, legislation. Even if they can't pass them, they can control the focus. We are likely to see, I think, a relatively combative, politically charged dynamic between the House and Senate, between Republicans and Democrats, which is I think just reflective of the time that we live in. And as a consequence, we won't see a lot of legislation, much less space legislation probably. Now there's always exceptions and I think we've seen opportunities in the past where space has transcended partisan divide as it is want to do thankfully, but the real worry for me is going to be how regularly we can expect our annual spending legislation to make it through Congress on time and in one piece so to speak. That's going to be NASA's not the driving force of that. If the two parties can't agree on basic functions of how much to spend or whether to raise the debt ceiling or not, you can see a lot of disruption that will impact what NASA's doing as basically a bystander in this larger fight. So it's something that we are going to be obviously watching closely. We have new members of Congress we will be planning to engage with as they come in next year, January, early January when Congress convenes, this next Congress and we'll be looking to see who occupies which key leadership areas in the key scientific committees that we are really focused on. Science committees in the House and the Senate and then also the CJS appropriations committees.

Mat Kaplan: When will we know who is going to be leading these key committees that we care the most about?

Casey Dreier: Really, we won't probably see that until the new Congress convenes and they formally are installed. We're looking probably mid to late January, particularly for science committees, which as we've mentioned before, are not really the most coveted committees because you just can't raise a lot of money from scientists or scientific organizations because for regulating them, it's not a great way to get a lot of campaign donations quickly. So those tend to be people who really like science. Frankly though, for on the Republican side, I think we're likely to see continuation of, so the ranking members will become chairman. That's Frank Lucas from Oklahoma and Brian Babin from Texas likely to lead the science committee and the space subcommittee respectively. And we just saw the other day actually them send, as ranking members, a letter to NASA asking for answers about why NEO Surveyor was delayed and cut this year. So we're already seeing them starting to step up in those future leadership positions and frankly for a topic we're very committed to and interested in. It's a great first step for them to focus on this.

Mat Kaplan: Boy that is sure very encouraging. On the Senate side, with the Democrats keeping control, I guess we're still going to see some changes there if only because of retirements.

Casey Dreier: Yeah. We lost a key appropriator, Patrick Leahy from Vermont. It's looking like Patty Murray, my senator here in Washington state, is likely to assume leadership of the full Senate Appropriations Committee. I think there's an opportunity there. Washington, as actually helpfully, called out by this NASA economic impact report that we will be talking about. Washington's actually a pretty major recipient of NASA investment and jobs and I always call it a space state that doesn't know it. And Patty Murray in that role can really be key to directing funds to areas in Washington state to invest in the space program here, or the space industry here frankly. And it's a big opportunity I think for new people coming in to realize, and I think this is one of the key values of having things like the economic impact report and why we train our space advocates here at The Planetary Society to know how to read NASA contracting and financial impact investments on their own, is that you have a very practical quantitative number you can point to to say, "Here's what NASA does for you." NASA just doesn't spend money out there. It can't, right? There's no economy out in space. All that money is spent here in order to go out there. And that's what I think the really great opportunity is with Patty Murray and the other people coming into leadership positions. Likely maybe Susan Collins as ranking member from Maine on the Republican side in Senate appropriations next year.

Mat Kaplan: Casey, you mentioned Senator Mark Kelly, reelected in Arizona. Democratic senator from that state. Has he, as a former astronaut, shown enthusiasm for space exploration, for science?

Casey Dreier: Absolutely shown enthusiasm. I think astronauts tend to have an interesting problem when they go into, a handful have gone into Congress and the Senate, where they really want to show their non space interests as a way to be a broader set of political interest. So Mark Kelly actually doesn't sit on any space committees. He focuses on broader issues. And that's, I think, how you get reelected in a state like Arizona, which he did narrowly or reasonably I'd say compared to some. But he has definitely shown support for Oregon. Local projects like NEO Surveyor his office has spoken about. And obviously he's still an astronaut or was an astronaut and has a brother who was an astronaut and is enthusiastic, but also has, I think, a political responsibility to really focus on some broader issues beyond it. So I'd say it's generally good compared to his opponent who showed very little, if any interest, in space that this is I think someone we can still continue to work with. They are just not on those key committees that really make that difference.

Mat Kaplan: And as you have pointed out many times, we may think that space exploration should be top of the list of concerns in DC, but most of the rest of the country is probably more concerned about one or two other issues that we face as a nation. Just one other question for you before we get to your great interview. With these changes, does it change anything about the society's basic mission of advocacy in DC?

Casey Dreier: It really doesn't. And that's the key thing here. The society is a nonpartisan organization. Whomever comes into power in Congress, we are dedicated to working for. Our job is not to choose sides. Our job is to convince people that space is so important and critical and the exploration of space is so monumental and inspiring and you have such profound opportunity to shape us for the better that we talk to everybody and you never know where you will find the next space advocate that will go to bat for these key issues. It does transcend partisanship, which I am grateful for. I can use that. That's the inspiring, space still inspires even at the political level, Mat. So it's something we continue to work on and we will plan to do aggressive engagement with new members of Congress and this is, again, key for our members of The Planetary Society and listeners here today. You can expect to be prompted by us starting next year to reach out to members of Congress to raise space as an issue and you can really do your part too to help make this a compelling and really relevant topic for them to consider.

Mat Kaplan: I join you in your gratitude and I will add my pride in this mission that you, Casey, and so many others of our colleagues help to carry out in Washington and elsewhere.

Casey Dreier: I want to just say one thing that is newsy since we've recorded this last time, which is actually somewhat related to this, but Mat, the SLS launched into space.

Mat Kaplan: Yeah. There's that.

Casey Dreier: Successfully. Right?

Mat Kaplan: And it's going around the moon as we speak.

Casey Dreier: It's going around the moon. Orion is working almost perfectly. I just want to acknowledge that I've done a lot of interviews this year about Artemis and SLS and Orion and a lot of questions were what happens if this fails? What happens to the program? Is it sustainable? But I think very few questions were about what happens if it succeeds. At this point the SLS succeeded. It did exactly what it needed to do. It performed flawlessly once they were able to load it with fuel and launch it, right. Orion seems to be performing very well. We will know in a few more weeks when it comes back to earth whether it finishes the job. The most important test, that heat shield. But given that the SLS succeeded, I think we now see the future locked in for this program. This is going to be me putting my cards on the table here so people can pick at this in the future. But I've talked about the political inertia and the deep level of support that transcends party and who is in power on Congress. It's more than just one senator from Alabama supporting the SLS. Now that it has succeeded and worked flawlessly, I don't see any reason why this stops for at least a decade, probably more. That's the key here, right? The success of this demonstrates that the concept can work. This is your assured access to deep space that the US is paying for, substantially paying for. It will now lead us to, I think, the moon. It's barreling down this pathway that all these other companies will follow and organizations and nations will follow. But the SLS proved itself. All of those testing that they did, all that effort that they did, it's paid off. That was the key test and now I think we're going to see these long-term contracts really lock in. We'll be producing SLS cores for the foreseeable future. So that was a major turning point and it's amazing to me every night that I've been looking at the moon the last couple weeks, I think about Orion is just right around there right now as well. And there's other spacecraft at the moon, but there's something about knowing that that's a spacecraft that'll be carrying people in it at that little crescent hanging in the sky there above the horizon that just gets to you that extra little bit and it makes me very excited for Artemis too and I think we're really seeing something profoundly exciting start to happen as we record this roughly on the 50th anniversary of Apollo 17 the last time we went.

Mat Kaplan: 2024. Let's hope that they're able to stick with that for Artemis two, that orbital mission, but with people on board. Then after that, putting the first woman and the next man, as NASA likes to say, back on the surface of the moon. China headed in the same direction as we heard with some of China's plans laid out with a bit more detail just in the last few days. Hoping to get there by 2030 or soon after. All right, Casey. Are you ready? Anything else you want to say about your guest today or the topic? Otherwise we can go right into it.

Casey Dreier: Again, Joshua Drucker, assistant professor at the University of Illinois in Chicago. Studies these things. Very, very deep understanding about economic modeling and impacts. And then Alex MacDonald, the chief economist of NASA, authored one of my favorite books, the Long Space Age, which I always plug to people about understanding the history of space exploration through photon collecting, astronomy in the US, before governments really supported it in the late 19th and early 20th century. Just very, very also deeply knowledgeable. I have to acknowledge and pre-apologize for. We had a small technical hiccup in this recording. So my recording, my voice, my microphone, was not great. I hope you'll bear with us. The conversation shines through I think. Otherwise-

Mat Kaplan: Absolutely.

Casey Dreier: The quality might be lower than normal and we'll make sure that that doesn't happen again in the future.

Mat Kaplan: All right. We'll go into that right now, Casey and his two guests, and we will meet you again briefly on the other side.

Casey Dreier: Joshua Drucker, the Associate Professor of Urban Planning and Policy Program here in Illinois, co-author of this report. And Alex McDonald, chief economist at NASA. Thank you for joining the Space Policy Edition today.

Alex MacDonald: Thanks for having us.

Casey Dreier: Alex, let's start at the top. Why did NASA put together this economic impact report? What's its value and what are you trying to achieve with this?

Alex MacDonald: Yeah. So this is the second time that we have done an agency level economic impact report. And what we want to show is just the way in which the agency's activities really touch every single part of the country and also really show that there is a significant economic impact from what the agency does. In many ways, the model that the report is based on really should be considered a pretty conservative model because what it does is it just shows how a given expenditure, how the way in which a NASA employees and contracts spend their money in their local economy, how that has a knock on multiplier effect effectively on the economy, but it doesn't account for things like the technology transfer that NASA conducts and creates additional economic advantages. It doesn't account for the way in which NASA's activities have been stimulating new commercial investments. And it also doesn't account for the way in which NASA's climate data can be used to help us prepare for the future. So the real goal here is just to show that these federal expenditures, 'cause of course NASA is a federal agency, these federal expenditures have a really significant impact on the economy to show where we have that impact in the economy and what states and also frankly to show that some of this comes back in the form of taxes. That there really is a lot of ways in which the agency has an economic impact and really just to kind of open people's eyes to the many different ways in which that's the case.

Casey Dreier: That seems like a great thing to have. So why is this only the second time NASA has done this? Why hasn't this been done from the beginning if this is such an obvious thing to do?

Alex MacDonald: So that's a good question Casey and since I know you love the history and the policy history of this stuff. In the '60s and '70s, early efforts actually tried to account for all of NASA's impact. And that turns out to be somewhere between very hard or impossible depending on what you believe about economic modeling in general. And so there have been some kind of critiques of these earlier models that had really outsized kind of benefits and that kind of dissuaded the agency frankly for a while from doing these types of estimates. However, over the years, many of the centers discovered that there is a particular model that is actually a very conservative model and that is really the gold standard for doing these types of estimates. And it's a basic, to get really into the nerdy wonk stuff here, a basic Leontief input output model that takes expenditures and estimates the way in which those expenditures impact the economy through linkages, through induced spending, and these types of things. So the centers have been doing different types of reports using this model. Frankly when I became chief economist a couple years ago, we got a request from the administrator said, "Hey. I think we need an economic impact report," and I said, "Yes sir." And when it comes to using these types of models, this particular model which is called IMPLAN, is one that's really been kind of most regularly used. And so we for the first time used that model for the whole of the agency, which is actually a fairly complex process, which Josh really was the one who kind of pioneered here for us. But that was really the history of how we kind of found this and I just want to say, 'cause I love the history of it, this model was actually first developed in the 1970s by the US Forestry Service because they were one of the first groups to actually kind of respond to the standard call for explaining to stakeholders how does the expenditures in your agency impact the economy? And this has now become kind of the most widely used version of these impact models that we have in the country.

Casey Dreier: Reading through the report, which I will strongly recommend our listeners do, it's fascinating 'cause you do go into relative detail about how this economic model came together. But before we go into some of those details, I want to just hit some of the top line takeaways and then Josh, I'd like to have you explain some of the assumption that goes into approaching this problem of how you model what NASA does to the economy. It sounds great, right? It says, I have quotes here, "At the national level, NASA supports labor income of almost $26 billion a year and an estimated economic output of $71.2 billion annually." This is from '21. So that's an obligations of roughly $23 billion. So a good factor increase there. "NASA supports like something almost nearly 18,000 full-time jobs and it supports," more broadly it says here, "340,000 jobs in the United States just from what NASA activities are. And for every full-time job located at NASA facility, therefore it's supporting 18 jobs beyond that." Pretty impressive numbers. Josh, when you approach this, how did you start with this kind of big assumptions of how do you model this something as broad as what NASA does and how do you even get numbers that you can kind of believe? You can't just remove NASA as a test from a local economy and see how many jobs go away. So this must be a relatively difficult process that you face.

Joshua Drucker: A lot of questions in there, but I think that I'm not the one inventing this process. We can stand on the backs of those who came before us. The pit in the ground theory, remove NASA and see what's leftover afterwards. No. We're not going to try that. So some very inventive people came up with the idea of running particular way of modeling these exercise to trace sort of the flows of money and activity through different supply chains and through different expenditure patterns. That was the Nobel Prize winner from I think the [inaudible 00:25:42] created this idea in the '30s when he was a graduate student. All the best work of economists is done before they're 30 or 40 years old and won the Nobel Prize in the '70s at some point. And we've been using those models on a national scale for that long. What has changed really, and what Alex was describing in terms of the modeling process, is how to bring this down to a local scale, how to be able to look at it at a regional level and in that case we needed to have better information. We needed to have some collections that now are done by the Bureau of Economic Analysis at the federal level and a bunch of other data sets that are edited, again, so that we can say, "How do these transactions occur in local communities, in states, in congressional districts, in regions of the United States?" And if we have some at least estimates of that, then we can trace where the patterns are going with flows of dollars and flows of activity and where employees live. So I didn't have to come up with all that thankfully. I would not be able to do that. I'm no Nobel Prize winner, but I can apply the models and I can sort of differentiate where they work, where they don't work that well. And we at the Voorhees Center for Neighborhood and Community Improvement at University of Illinois, Chicago, we started this process with NASA at one of their bigger centers, at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama. We worked through a lot of the issues. How do you model different government activities? How do you enter into a standard sort of software? The things that are unusual about NASA operations, about NASA contracting. And we came to some approaches that you may want to ask me about and more specifically and then we were able to apply a lot of those to the federal scale when we're doing all of NASA as well.

Casey Dreier: What were some of those? What makes NASA unique and unusual to model in terms of its impacts, particularly in localities like states and some of these areas where NASA centers are?

Joshua Drucker: Well, NASA is everywhere, as you can see in the report. I think there were contracts in every state. There are employees in almost every state, if not every state. There are even contracts and supply chains that run through foreign countries, through territories, which admittedly we do not capture all of that. Our report is going to focus on the continental United States and not even the territories I think. I think it's continental United States and overseas military bases is what we can include. So NASA is a huge scope geographically and spatially. It also has a very wide scope in terms of the types of activity. So almost every different sort of manufacturing is involved in producing NASA's components and systems and research throughout the entire United States. So breadth is a large part of what we had to deal with. How do we encompass all of that and how do we make sure that we are appropriately representing that in our modeling? Government agencies in general are different than private sector businesses. So that was another sort of challenge for us and one that the modeling software we use is up to that challenge, but we had to figure out how to make it do what we wanted it to do. So one of the distinct things that you mentioned in the previous question was that there's this huge return for NASA expenditures. You said the number of employees supported nationwide, the number of total value added in the country, is much larger than the initial expenditure. A lot of that has to do with the huge amount of contracts that NASA supports. Procurement, buying services, buying equipment, doing research and design that's not actually done by NASA employees themselves. And that was a bit challenging. How do we express that in a way that makes sense to readers?

Casey Dreier: Alex, that raises an interesting question to me in terms of when you're looking at big multipliers in terms of economic activity from investments, particularly through contractors. There's an interesting perhaps implication in terms of how we best spend money that way. But first let's get some basic econ 101 about how can the multiplier even work? What does that even mean really when we say, "A dollar spent at NASA, how can that just create money out of nothing?" It seems to violate some sort of conservation of dollars from my intuitive physics sense, but tell me why that's not the case and why this works to begin with?

Alex MacDonald: Yeah. It's interesting. Josh and I have been talking a little bit about the way in which a standard Leontief input output regional model compares to a Keynesian multiplier model. And while they actually come from different places, they actually kind of basically come out with similar results. The basic idea is actually reasonably well kind of described in how we break down the report. So there's a direct impact, which as Josh said, is really through our civil servants, our direct employees. They have income and that creates an economic impact there. There's the indirect impact, which then comes through our contractors, but that's still measuring really direct expenditure. Where the additional impact comes is really from what is called the induced impact. And that really comes from the fact that when you are receiving your salary, you then spend that in the local economy. That then creates jobs for people who provide the services, who provide clothing, who provide food, et cetera, to the people who are receiving new jobs. And this really is kind of the standard argument for stimulatory effects of expenditure. There's lots of different ways to kind of get at that, but the idea really is that when you are spending money, you then are contributing back into the economy and that when you are providing funds in a stimulatory fashion, which you could make an argument that a lot of federal expenditure is, that has an additional impact beyond just the fact that someone got one dollar.

Casey Dreier: Is that because it's coming from somewhere else? Basically the treasury and then it shows up in Alabama or it shows up in California and those jobs effectively wouldn't exist otherwise. They're funded by some external source. Is that how you can have it as a multiplier effect in those local economies? Is that the idea?

Alex MacDonald: To be honest, I would actually give that one to Josh. He is actually the expert on exactly this distinction.

Joshua Drucker: Let me add one thing to what Alex said before too is that the supply chain is a big part of this. So it's not just the businesses that are the first suppliers to NASA, it's the businesses that supply them and the businesses that supply the suppliers. So it goes all the way upstream, up a value chain and that adds a lot to it as well. In terms of location, it's a perspective on how we decide that. We can go back to that sort of hole in the ground if NASA didn't exist. That is our comparison in some sense. So the money has to come in that wouldn't already have been spent in the region. I think that that is the presumption of almost every economic impact study I've ever seen is that the agency or the business or the activity you're modeling wouldn't be present otherwise. It's not really a geographic distinction. We can run these models for Washington DC and for the entire United States as a whole and the money is coming from within those locations. That's okay. It's a question whether those employees would've been active, whether that contract would've been spent in another way.

Alex MacDonald: Right. And this actually reminds me of another question that we often get, which is, well how does NASA's impact compare to other agencies? The answer is because of the model, it doesn't very substantially. It does vary slightly based exactly on the kind of supply chain items that Josh was mentioning because NASA has a lot of high tech products effectively, there is a slightly additional impact that NASA has due to basically involving more in the supply chain they're having a slightly higher multiplier, but in reality the model gives you that same answer. So an extreme skeptic could look at it and say, "Well if I wasn't funding NASA, I'd be funding something else." It's important to note that this model isn't really used to try and win that argument. This model is really there to show people what the comparative effects of the expenditures that NASA is making has on the economy. And one of the things that's kind of underappreciated frankly in this kind of model is that it's a lot more actually than just the UIC team that is required to produce this. Every single one of our centers at their chief financial officer level collates all of the expenditures by that center, including where their employees are located and including where the contracts get allocated. And essentially collate that by zip code, which then gets sent over to the NASA headquarters CFO, which collates all of that, which then gets collated and sent over to the UIC folks to run the model. And that level of insight into expenditure at the NASA level is actually fairly unprecedented. We have not traditionally put out the numbers on where, at a zip code level, this expenditure is happening. Now the report itself reports out at the state level, but underneath that comes in even a higher granularity of detail. And so this report is kind of really about showing people the effects of our expenditure. The question of whether or not it should be NASA or some other federal government that gets a hypothetical given dollar is not really what this is about and that's kind of also why I emphasized earlier on that this really is a kind of floor of an economic impact because it doesn't include all of these additional valuable economic impacts that NASA has on the commercial space sector on providing scientific data that is useful for wide writer purposes and technology transfer, et cetera. So it really is a model that helps describe, I might say, more than it makes an argument for greater impact at NASA than elsewhere. That's really actually a more complicated problem.

Casey Dreier: That's like my job in a way, or our job at The Planetary Society. That's great that you brought that up because I was going to raise that very thing, which is, and I've talked to people or there classic response is like, "Why spend that money NASA? I can get an economic multiplier just building roads. So why build rocket ships places?" It's all a multiplier from jobs and how they spend in districts. I'll just build a giant jelly donut the size of the city of Dallas and that'll be great. It's very expensive and takes a lot of work and it'll stimulate the economy. So why are we doing this? There are these fundamental aspects of R&D that are not captured. This is like a meat and potatoes type of economic impact from just that direct salary and contracting stimulus. And it leads me to the question, there is just a fundamental problem of why we cannot capture the value of basic R&D. The arguments for it are consistent. Going back to [inaudible 00:36:51] Bush with, "This is a good thing and good things will happen. We just don't know what they are." How do you as economists work into this what otherwise seems is this kind of matter of faith, that something good will come out of basic R&D? How do you account for that or is this fact that you don't? How do you try to work this into this broader discussion?

Alex MacDonald: I'll take a crack at it and Josh can chime in as well. I love how you're framing this stuff, Casey 'cause you, as always, know a lot about the way in which these items get brought up within the overall kind of space discussion. What I always try to remind people is that if we could successfully estimate the economic value of a technology today that we have just invented and whose economic impact almost by definition will exist in the future, then we would all just already be billionaires by betting on that in the market. We would have perfect information about the future and that would be amazing. Being mere mortals however, we cannot have that knowledge. And so the challenge is that inherently the things that we know are most valuable are the things that we produce that will have value in the future. A truly important example of that being some of the earliest earth science observations that help create the fundamental baseline of scientific knowledge that allowed for an understanding of anthropogenically driven climate change. A lot of that came from NASA. If you had done an economic impact assessment of that data in the '70s and '80s and even '60s when it was being collected, you would be completely unable to estimate the way in which that data could impact the economy. And yet now retrospectively we can look at that. And so one of the challenges is it is possible sometimes to look back at historically and say, "Because we did this, we know it did have this impact." Another one of my favorite examples is actually NASA's relatively brief, but important role in the history of semiconductors. So for actually only a couple of years, but for an important couple of years, NASA and associated military rocket programs accounted for about 75% of global semiconductor demand. And the fact that that demand existed for these really complex moonshot projects, quite literally in this case, meant that that whole industry could scale up, which meant that there was then more capacity to provide that at lower cost to more and more customers after the US government demand on that. We can tell that story now, but that's not a story of the dollar I spent yesterday and we're just kind of always in this challenge. And so one of the things we try to do is we try to tell some of these stories more effectively and one of the ways we do that is through our technology transfer process, which includes our publication spinoffs, which we've been doing every year and actually we include some of those statistics for that in our overall report. And then another area that we're actually reporting on with this particular economic impact report for the first time really is our total number of partnerships because one of the things we've been understanding is that one of the ways in which NASA has an outside impact on the economy is that when we partner with companies and we partner with frankly also international parties, that allows those companies and those international parties to also get increased investments to allow them to be able to gain private investment and that that has resulted frankly in one of the most significant economic booms that the space industry has ever seen. Last year alone, about $15 billion was invested in startup space companies. Now not all of that is due to NASA, but a significant amount of it is due to the fact that NASA over the last 10 years has made a significant shift towards working with commercial companies and private sector entities and I know this in part because I've been a part of that and I remember very distinctly one of the times when you and I were talking back in the day, Casey, around 2012 or so, we were all excited because we were seeing then very what we considered high numbers of investment, which was around half a billion dollars of investment in the startup space sector. And we've now of course eclipsed that by an order magnitude and an additional factor of three. So that is part of NASA's impact. And so again, what we try to do is we try to tell a lot of these different stories. Everything I've mentioned here is actually in the report, but we also then, as always, want to provide this kind of baseline understanding of how NASA's expenditures move through the American economy, which states get impacted and how. And so really it's a combination of all these things that we try to put together.

Casey Dreier: Yeah. And to be clear, all that space investment not included in this report. That's all kind of ancillary, tertiary, broader impact effects. What's the value of SpaceX right now versus what it was when NASA started investing in SpaceX back in the mid 2000s?

Speaker 5: Hold that thought. Casey and his guests will be right back with much more after we hear from the boss.

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Casey Dreier: I've been obsessed lately with this idea of what's easily quantifiable tends to be what we talk about versus the difficult to measure stuff, which isn't less important, but just generally gets talked about less by definition. We just can't structure it in a way that makes it easy to verbalize and communicate in a policy structure. I think this report that you did is actually really valuable and I don't want to undermine. This was not easy to put together. You can read through it. The amount of data it took and effort and careful modeling it took put together, but still there's even more ephemeral real, but hard to model I guess or hard to quantify impacts that we're still talking about here. Josh, I want to talk to you a little bit about putting this model together. How do you constrain and know what you're doing isn't crazy? How do you do a sanity check on modeling again because you cannot, again, or do you? Do you look into historical moments where money has been pulled out of various states and NASA centers to help ground your model in terms of what the economic consequences were or is this all kind of based on assumptions and careful thought about using basic economic principles? So maybe another way to say that question is how much of this is a theoretical model versus grounded in past performance?

Joshua Drucker: Casey, that's an excellent question, one that comes up when I teach this kind of analysis to my students in the planning department. We have pretty free reign in a way because we do not almost ever go back and check. Okay. And that's not because we wouldn't like to, but because there's really no mechanism for doing so. We don't track which dollars go to which places in the United States. Money is fungible. Things move around. So we don't have a way to go back and look and see what happens to a certain expenditure when Mr. NASA employee, miss NASA employee gets that dollar. Do they actually spend it here or there? We have to use estimates. And most of these estimates come from the aggregate scale. So we, as the United States total economy, collect a lot of data at very large scale and then what the modelers like IMPLAN folks who create the model that we used and then we folks at UIC who use the model, we help translate that down to a regional scale using appropriate, what we think are appropriate, assumptions, justifications, estimates. So yeah. You could say that this model is not empirical. This model is mostly theoretical. On the other hand it has to add up. Everything that NASA does has to add up to the total. Everything that the economy does overall has to add up to what we do measure at that national scale. So it's not completely ungrounded in that sense. You could think of it more that we're apportioning what happens in the economy. Now how much of that is due to NASA's activity, which we can measure.

Casey Dreier: Just reading through the report, I was actually really struck by, and I appreciate this from the report, the careful discussion of what went into the model, considerations that you made, and it was very rigorous in a way that I appreciated because this isn't an exact science. You're, at the end of the day, limited by the fact that this is a theoretical model and it's just how good your model is really drives your assumptions. And so I was just kind of curious if you get this multiplier, is there a sense of this is unreasonable or is there some level you have to put in a gut check or some fundamental consideration comes into this? If it came out as a multiplier of a billion, obviously you probably think that that's a bit high.

Joshua Drucker: We would.

Casey Dreier: But I don't know. Maybe NASA's super good at doing that. What do you limit it with?

Joshua Drucker: Well, let me say that the multipliers in this report are also not the standard one. So if you read the main text of the report, the multipliers are quite large and we know that and that's because we made the executive decision, we and NASA together, that procurement should be considered an indirect activity, not a direct activity. If we had modeled it as a direct activity, we get multipliers that are more in the standard range and those are contained in an appendix, which I think is available publicly, but if not, it's available to NASA anyway to dole out as they see fit. There are a lot of economic impact analyses that are done. So to one extent, we're checking ourselves against the industry standard for economic modeling. We would expect that the multipliers in this report would be somewhat higher than your typical ones because we're looking along supply chains that are pretty rich because we're talking about large scale activities. We're also able to look at a very few amount of studies that exist where there is some sort of a hole in the ground, a removal of a particular activity. And then we can look after the fact and see if the economy shrank. The problem with that is that there's always other things going on in life. So if you look at a center that closed, well six other things happened at the same time. A business moved in, the land was redeveloped, people moved out, other people moved in. So there is some checking that can go on and we didn't do that specifically for this report, but the people who do economic modeling including us have that sort of in mind when we're looking to see are our results reasonable? Does it fit with the known facts of those retrospective studies that do exist? I can put in a plug for more. We should do more of those, but other people should do them, not me, 'cause they're not as much fun.

Casey Dreier: Speaking of multipliers, again, it looks like the outcome is, and we talk about this and this is phrases that have been bandied about for space advocates for a long time, that a dollar spent at NASA goes to X number of dollars to the economy. Is the right way to interpret the summary of this report is that number is eight? Is it one dollar to NASA gives you an eightfold output to the economy or is it a three 'cause I saw in a couple of different ways to interpret that. Maybe that was the labor market output multiplier is 8.2. For each millions worth of output generated NASA an additional 7.2 million of output is generated through the US economy.

Alex MacDonald: Yeah. So it's funny, Casey, you're given this old economist heartburn. So one of the things that I have often tried to avoid is kind of limiting this to a specific multiplier soundbite. And the reason is because as we talked before, the value of doing this type of analysis is seeing the way in which the expenditures go throughout the country geographically. Not just kind of a single number multiplier. So I really tend not to kind of want to use that because as we've also mentioned, given the model, the number isn't all that different for expenditures by other federal agencies. So it's not really a great comparison. But to answer the kind of technical question quite directly, it's really the approximately three number. The higher number comes from the fact that NASA has actually a relatively small number of civil servants relative to its expenditure. Josh and others are familiar with the ways in which these types of same studies are done for DOD, right? Well they tend to have a much higher number of direct employees relative to NASA. So that higher number really does show the way in which NASA actually from an employment perspective, from a civil servant labor perspective, actually really highly leverages contracts. And that's something that has really been true at NASA really since the start. I know that these days there is a lot of interest in talking about the way in which NASA's contracting for more things like human space flight that it didn't contract for in the past, except in fact, of course it did contract for those things. It just contracted for them in different ways. Rather than buying human space flight as a service, we bought the manufacturing of a space shuttle as a production item. The difference there really is to show that NASA civil service is a relatively small part of NASA's overall impact. And in fact the vast majority of that kind of impact comes from contracts. But if you really were trying to do that kind of overall total dollar spent, then that's the kind of closer to three number because all of those dollars, whether they go to contract or they go to civil servants, should be counted in as the NASA expenditures 'cause they are.

Casey Dreier: I've never frankly liked that way of phrasing it either for a lot of the reasons you put out, but I just hear it repeated so much and that's what I am looking for in this report. If you wanted to really say the one sentence takeaway from this report that you used to say, "NASA's a great investment in this economy," what's the key metric that you think? Is it the number of jobs supported? Is that maybe a fair thing to say or what are you really key on as the critical takeaway?

Alex MacDonald: Yeah. I think that's a great one. So for me, personally, I think it's that the report shows that there is not a single state in the union that is not impacted significantly by NASA activities. And then I would also say that over 300,000 jobs are supported by NASA. And those jobs include everything from the people who are serving food around NASA centers to the people who are operating the International Space Station. That, because we have a National Aeronautics and Space Administration, there are a lot of people around the country who have jobs. In addition to that, we also happen to get early images of galaxy formation and human missions to the moon as a bonus.

Casey Dreier: Right. Yeah. The spiritual and awesome enlightenment of seeing the cosmos expanded before our eyes. Again, how do you quantify that? You don't have a spiritual quotient, multiplier that you can put in the economic reports of this.

Alex MacDonald: You got it. And maybe another way of flipping that around is that expenditure through NASA is as good as any other expenditure by the federal government. In addition, you get awe inspiring images of planets and the potential to see a future for humanity amongst the stars. For me, those are pretty good bonuses to get with your happy meal expenditure.

Casey Dreier: I'll take that. So there's some interesting implications from this report and this is kind of what I'm curious about how we frame and quantify certain things. You kind of mentioned that you made this decision to quantify a lot of expenditures as indirect because their procurements versus direct and that changes, from the model, how the multiplier. So it basically waits highly the idea that we do contracting. I was thinking about just like a John or Jane Q lawmaker looking at this report saying, "Okay. So what I take away from this is that I should spend lots of money at NASA via contracting if I want to have the maximum economic impact in my state or maybe step one, I should make a NASA center in my state if I don't have one 'cause that seems to have the strongest impact. And then make sure that that NASA center has a bunch of contractors that all the money passes through to contractors in the local area." Is that way too simplistic of a conclusion? Are there pitfalls into this type of framing about how we approach these?

Alex MacDonald: Yeah. So there's a few. So one is that actually it's not always the case that the states with the most economic impact are the ones with centers in it. This is one of the things that the report shows actually quite well. Colorado actually has one of the highest economic impacts of any state. And there's no NASA center there, but there's huge number of NASA contractors there. In addition, Washington state has a significant amount of economic impact as well. And one of the things that we haven't talked about here is actually the way in which the report also breaks out these total expenditures by two other categories. And those categories are Moon to Mars activities, which includes a lot of the obvious things like SLS and Orion and our Mars rovers, but also things like our Eclipse program, commercial lunar payload services to the moon. And then the other major category is actually our climate research and technology activities, which predominantly includes our earth science activities, but also includes some of our activities under space technology mission director and perhaps most significantly some of our activities related to green aviation, trying to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from green aircraft. And when you look at those particular studies actually, you get very interesting things. You get some kind of maybe more predictable ones out of the Moon to Mars account where perhaps unsurprising, Alabama has a very, very significant count. But the two highest states that have the highest share of their NASA revenue related to climate are actually two places that don't have NASA centers. One has a quasi NASA center. That's New York state, which has the Goddard Institute for Space Studies, GISS, which is where we do a lot of our climate activities, but it's not a center. And then the other one is actually Massachusetts. Has no center whatsoever, but simply has a lot of researchers there who do a lot of that activity. So that's actually, in some ways, you're making the case for why actually doing these analysis is valuable because you might come away with a conclusion that says, "Well yeah. The most important way to do this is to have a NASA center in your state, et cetera, et cetera. But there's actually a lot of cases where you have significant economic impact in states that don't have NASA centers. And actually there's probably a lot to be learned by people investigating why and how those states actually got to the places where they've gotten to. And just to briefly return to kind of the issue of do it through contracts, do it through civil servants, there wouldn't necessarily be any difference between those. It just happens to be how they were coded up here. So it would not take away that you would put more and more into industry. Although frankly that is one of the reasons why NASA started that way was because we understood that actually by contracting out a lot of it, you could actually have both efficiency of management, but also you have the ability to stimulate industrial capabilities that can then be used for other purposes. And that's very much at the heart of the logic around things like commercial crew, which now, last time I was on the podcast, Casey, we hadn't had our commercial crew success. But now, not only have we flown our astronauts to the International Space Station, now we've had at least two private missions flying them as well. And that would not be something quite literally that we could have done if it had all been in house. That is something directly enabled by the way in which we engage with the industry

Casey Dreier: Right. I want to emphasize this separation between Moon to Mars, and I meant to mention this earlier, but I think this is really nice to have, which is this. You break out in this report the direct impacts of Moon to Mars program and the climate research and technology. And I'll just make a plug, Alex, for next time to add planetary science to the next time you do this 'cause I'd love to see planetary science through that, obviously for selfish reasons, but also I think you'd find similar surprises about where some of those economic impacts are concentrated. I live in Washington state just outside of Seattle and I always tell people that Washington is a space state that doesn't know it. And it was nice to see that validated by the data here. A very substantial increase. And I think the trick is there to just have the world's second richest man started a space company in your state, but I don't know if that's replicable for everywhere with Blue Origin. But something I wanted to pick at, I was noticing this, looking at the multipliers, just the overall multipliers for a number of jobs, for economic output, all these multipliers for the Moon to Mars aspect of NASA seems substantially higher than the average NASA and also for even the climate technology research. And I'm thinking about implications of this. Does this suggest that exploratory building of science has better economic multipliers than basic research? Is that just a quirk of how we define this here? 'Cause it looked like I was seeing 30 to 40 levels of multipliers under the Moon to Mars program versus single digits for other and the averages that we talked about earlier for NASA as a whole.

Alex MacDonald: Yeah. Josh, do you want to take that one?

Joshua Drucker: Well, I think that has to do again with the contracting part of it because here at the university we talk about overhead and the Moon to Mars expenditures don't have the same overhead. They're accounted under other categories in more general NASA. Generally you're going to have the overhead activities, staffing, janitorial services, HR, payroll. Those sort of things aren't going to have quite as high a multiplier. And so if you're not accounting any of those in the Moon to Mars it's going to have sort of a larger looking multiplier. I think you're putting your finger in a lot of this discussion on why I don't particularly like multipliers. And Alex has said something similar. They're best for comparing geographically. They're not so good for comparing across types of activities. Sometimes we see reports that say, "Oh, manufacturing is far better than, I don't know, government work because it has higher multipliers." That just means that where the personnel are, are counted at a different part of the supply chain. They're earlier on in the government work and farther on in manufacturing. It doesn't really matter for the overall total impact. It does matter if you're talking about leverage and if you're talking about how far a government dollar goes. But in this case, NASA has to operate its overhead in one way or another. And that's important and it's going to be accounted for in one part of its operations or another. We happen, in this case, not to count it in Moon to Mars directly.

Alex MacDonald: Yeah. I think the other really key piece here, Casey, is that our Moon to Mars activities are very heavily contracted. So I think you're looking at those ones, looking directly at the civil service direct labor part of it and a relative multiplier compared to that. For earth science actually, we comparatively actually do a lot of that work in house. A lot of people don't know this, but NASA is actually the employer of more earth scientists than any other part of the federal government. The NASA earth science community is core to the national, and therefore also the global, earth science community in a way that we often really forget. And that was really one of the reasons why we wanted specifically to call it out and I appreciate your request for the planetary science account in the future there. But the earth science one I think really is one of the really underappreciated parts of all this and it's really one that is done in house. There's a lot of civil servant earth scientists. And compared to the overall size of the expenditure actually, more of it is actually going in house compared to the Moon to Mars account. And this is back to Josh's point. These types of things are actually useful for drawing out these comparisons more than they are for trying to determine any absolute multiplier.

Casey Dreier: Yeah. This is where my struggles with economics really is coming into the for 'cause I guess I still don't quite understand why a direct government employee would have a lower multiplier.

Alex MacDonald: It doesn't.

Casey Dreier: Than a contractor.

Alex MacDonald: It doesn't.

Casey Dreier: So why are those multipliers different? So this is what I worry about if someone is reading this report and saying, "What's the best use of NASA funds? Oh, look at these big numbers for multipliers here. So let's put into contracting, let's do Moon to Mars as opposed to climate stuff," which obviously isn't a spurious at reasoning. But if you're just looking at economic impact and using this data as the argument, where's the fallacy there that I'm making in this situation?

Joshua Drucker: Well, the multiplier is a fraction, it's a ratio. The total impact is on the top and that's really the number we're interested in. What's changing between these different multipliers is more the denominator, what you'd be dividing by. It's, to some extent, just a convention. That we consider procurement to be indirect because in most economic impact analyses it is. We wanted our analysis to be comparable with other analyses that government agencies, and other parts of the economy, businesses have put out. So we struggled with this. That's why we put it in two different ways. We don't really think procurement is secondary at all. It's part of what NASA does. It's, as Alex said, the majority of what they do in terms of dollar value. So we could easily have put that in the numerator and that's what we did for the appendix. That would've sort of contradicted what we had done for Marshall Space Flight Center and earlier analyses and made just things harder to gel together as we're looking how things change over time. But that might be a better way to convey it if you insist on using multipliers.

Casey Dreier: So it's you just changing the size of the pool that you're looking at the economic output of and they're accounted for in one place or the other and it's just that they're really-

Joshua Drucker: In other words, the model basically treats procurement as free. You didn't do anything for it. It just happened. So it's all numerator or no denominator and that's not realistic. All right.

Casey Dreier: Okay. So the key takeaway is let's not focus so much on multipliers, I think is what-

Joshua Drucker: I would that's fair.

Casey Dreier: Emphasize. Yeah. We look at total output is the key thing. One more question for you Josh. Is this a new area for you to work on? Is aerospace economic impact like this coming from a center of urban design or did you have to learn all about NASA? Was this a new opportunity for you or was this an area of your expertise of pre-existing already?

Joshua Drucker: You talking about me personally, right?

Casey Dreier: Yeah.

Joshua Drucker: Yeah. So I guess I'll go back. At one point you said I'm an economist. I'm not. I'm a proud urban planner, city planner, but my area's economic-

Casey Dreier: My mistake. Sorry.

Joshua Drucker: It's fine. It's fine. I take it where I and get it. Economic development is an area that involves economists, involves political scientists, city planners, business trained folks. I've been doing this sort of economic impact analysis since I was a master's student. So over 25 years at this point. Have I done it for aerospace? Not since I started working with NASA. That's fun. I used to work for Battelle Memorial Institute. They, at one point, had the technology transfer contract for NASA's Glenn Center in Cleveland and I got interested in space through that and I'm an aficionado, but I jumped at the chance to be involved in working with first Marshall Space Flight Center and now NASA overall. We, at the Voorhees Center at UIC, have done economic impact analyses for local events, convention centers, universities, our own university. And we've also worked, as Alex said, with Department of Defense before doing some economic impact analyses. It's a pretty broad tool. It's used in a lot of areas. There are always some interesting things you have to deal with in any particular setting, but the overall approach is somewhat similar.

Casey Dreier: Did anything surprise you then from this analysis at the end of the day? And that's for you and then Alex, I'd like to hear if anything surprised you from doing this project?

Joshua Drucker: Hey, I want to give a shout out again to all the NASA compilation of data. It's surprising to me how much they were able to learn about themselves and we were able to take their own data and give it back to them more usefully. In terms of what I learned, I like looking at the maps. I learned about Washington state and Colorado myself. I knew Ohio would come up because I used to live there and Alabama because it has a big NASA center, but Massachusetts research does that. It sort of verifies that this tool does meet what we call the sniff test, right? We don't have empirical verification, but it makes sense and that's always good to say. So maybe that's not a surprise. Maybe that's the opposite of a surprise, but it's still good.

Casey Dreier: Surprised that it works so well. Alex, anything surprise you about this process?

Alex MacDonald: One of the surprises now having done this a couple times and having kind of worked in this field for a while is really how much interest there is in these economic impact studies. There really is a kind of hunger to understand how we impact the economy. And I think it's particularly strong within our community, in part because we have also these aspirations of a broader space economy. Although we're not studying the space economy itself, we're really studying a terrestrial economy here. This is kind of the beginning of a research field that, if we're fortunate, will go on for hundreds of years and someday will include centers on other planetary bodies. And that's not a soon thing, but I think there just is a lot of interest in this. And I'm actually always surprised by the amount of interest in kind of reading through this literally multi thousand page document. Casey confessed, he didn't read every one of the 6,000 pages, but he read a lot of them. And I think it's just wonderful that there's so much interest in NASA that people really want to dig into all this. And I agree with Josh. The most interesting thing for me, which is not so much a surprise, but it's just my favorite thing to look at, are the maps. And for this audience in particular, folks who want to go beyond just the top line numbers, I cannot recommend highly enough looking at the maps of NASA impact, not just for the overall NASA impact, but also compare and contrast them to the Moon to Mars map and the climate map. And there you'll actually start to see the different ways in which NASA's missions play out economically over the economy. And this literally is the first time that we've ever been able to see that. And I think that alone is really exciting and again, as Josh said there, kind of surprising that we are actually able to do it. It took a huge effort by literally dozens of people across the country and just want to give a shout out to all them for actually making it possible.

Casey Dreier: Alex, can we expect more of these in the future? Is there a plan to put these out regularly going forward?

Alex MacDonald: Yep. Great question Casey. So our plan cadence is every two years. And one of the reasons is because the numbers don't necessarily change all that much from year to year, but when you do it every two years, actually get to see some significant changes. So for example, when we did the FY 2019 report, which was our first time we ever did the report, and then when we did the FY '21 report, which is the one that we just released, the Moon to Mars account, which we had actually done in both of them, grew by 40%. Now that is commensurate with the amount of expenditure that we have been increasing into that account, but it shows very significantly and very clearly that we are spending more in a non-trivial manner on our Moon to Mars activities. And as I often like to say, that 40% increase between those two periods of time, really only over two years, is what we are going looks like economically. And I think that is something that I think we can look forward to looking in two years time, not just the overall NASA top line, but how the two accounts of Moon to Mars and our climate research and technology account, how those have also changed in two years time. So yeah. Expect one in a couple years and glad to know we'll at least have one reader for it.

Casey Dreier: I'll be waiting with bated breath for the sequel for '23. I cannot tell you how much I enjoy and find value in reading through these, particularly the state breakouts. And I can also say for members of The Planetary Society and the advocates who come with me to Congress, they eat these up. This is so important to helping them quantify the impacts and particularly, again, not in the classic space states that we can point to. What's it like in Iowa or Wyoming or South Carolina? We have the numbers, and again, we really appreciate the rigor and clarity of how this all came together that really adds that baseline level of respectability. And then again, I think the important point here, that this is the baseline, this is the conservative estimate. And we get so much more beyond it that's just hard to quantify, hard to capture, but is clearly there. Then of course, again, that enlightenment of seeing JWST pictures for the first time has no value. There's some just intrinsic value of being alive to see that. So thank you both for making this happen and the teams and your colleagues who put together this great piece of work. Alex, I'll put another plug. If you could release all that raw data at the zip code level, I would be eternally grateful for you. I'd love to see a more detailed useful data that I can then also work with and play with, but I will take this in the meantime. Alex MacDonald, you are the chief economist at NASA and Josh Drucker, you are the associate professor in the Urban Planning and Policy Program, not an economist, at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Thank you both for joining me today.

Alex MacDonald: Thank you for having us.

Joshua Drucker: Thanks Casey. Yeah. Thanks a lot. Godspeed.

Mat Kaplan: Another terrific conversation, Casey. Thanks so much for sharing that with us. And I have to thank you again for six and a half years, allowing me to join you at the Space Policy Edition microphone. It has been great fun and very, very illuminating. Please keep it up.

Casey Dreier: Mat, I will aspire to. And again, I think it's been a real privilege for me to spend a third of Planetary Radio's existence occupying your time with Space Policy Edition. Again, the show won't be the same without you and it's incredible what you built in those 20 years and just how much effort you put into it. Happy that I can still call you a colleague in the future at the Society as you move into the machinations of making the organization work and helping us keep us on track. But obviously, we'll miss the silky baritone no longer behind the microphone of this show. So it was always a delight.

Mat Kaplan: They'll enjoy that silky baritone that you have now, now enhanced by your brand new microphone. So congratulations on that. As I said, I look forward to listening. Also, other things that you might be doing with this monthly installment of Space Policy as we head into 2023. The rest of you out there, take a look at and join. Become part of this glorious effort and help us continue to bring you Casey every month and keep returning him to Washington to represent the interests of all of us who love space exploration and space science. Casey, thanks so much.

Casey Dreier: Thank you, Mat. Ad Astra.

Mat Kaplan: Ad Astra.