NASA: Planetary Scientist Coordinates National Bake Sale, Car Wash for Struggling Agency

The Great Recession has NASA grounded. It's so bad that they are letting private companies in on the space exploration game. But maybe the National Aeronautics and Space Administration can be helped with a couple of old school tricks: a car wash and a bake sale.

On June 9, several universities -- including the University of Central Florida in Orlando -- and organizations from across the country will coordinate a car wash and bake sale to raise money for and bring awareness to deep budget cuts to NASA that are scheduled to take place October 1, which is the beginning of the next fiscal year.

The Planetary Science division is taking the biggest cut, with more than $300 million slashed, and a total reduction of $1.5 billion over the next five years. This means that exploration missions to other planets in the solar system will suffer.

Among these missions are the highly successful and currently ongoing Mars Exploration Rover Mission launched in 2003 and the New Horizons Mission to Pluto.

The idea to hold a bake sale and a car wash was the idea of planetary scientist and former NASA administrator Alan Stern:  "It makes a statement," he says. "The people who give money to NASA are in congress. By no means can we wash enough cars or sell enough cupcakes to fill the budget cuts."

Stern is the principal investigator of the New Horizons mission, which will be the first spacecraft flybly to the dwarf planet Pluto and its moons.

OK, so what if the event was meant to raise money to fill the budget shortfall? How many cupcakes could they sell? If they priced cupcakes at $3 apiece, then they would have to sell 500 million. Stern has provided some guidelines for handling the event, an event cookbook, that suggests they price car washes at $2.

At that rate, they would have to sell 750 million. In order to make this goal, we recommend a bikini car wash.

NASA is out of the space shuttle business, instead relying on private companies like SpaceX to send cargo into space. Just yesterday in Cape Canaveral, the first SpaceX launch into space was delayed when an engine revved then shut down just a second before lifting off into space.

Stern says that schools and organizations can be as creative as they want with baked goods. We recommend space cookies.

Any school, organization or person can participate. Come on Miami, help us find life on other planets. All of the proceeds will be donated to Congress.

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David Minsky is a U.S. Navy veteran and Tulane graduate who has experience reporting on stories from California, South Florida, and the Deep South. He has also won some journalism awards. Email or tweet David with story tips and ideas.
Contact: David Minsky