(Originally appeared in the April 2000 issue of the Liberty High School Sentinel newspaper.)
I spent my week-off for spring break in Florida with my youth group doing a Christian service trip—basically picking up fruit that would otherwise go to waste and donating it to hunger ministries. Toward the end of the week, the focus shifted (intentionally) to a vacation. On Thursday, we had intended to visit the Kennedy Space Center. Boy, were we in for a surprise.
We were a group of poor teenagers, and when we arrived at Cape Canaveral we found out that—as of about three weeks ago—NASA charges admission. It was $10 just to go into the visitors’ center and look around.
Since we did not come prepared for this, we left immediately.
This is the National Aeronautics and Space Administration—a government organization funded by our (outrageously high) taxes—and yet they need to charge admission? Something does not quite make sense here.
Now, I haven’t had the time to contact the people at NASA—I just got back from the trip—however I did get a small card at the space center saying that “Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex receives no government or taxpayer funding” and that it is entirely “guest-supported.”
But, wait a minute here. It is on government land, covered in NASA logos, and I’m sure (although I must admit I’ve never been inside—I’m a little bitter about that) is full of government property, employees, and equipment. Sounds to me like a government installation; sounds like something that should be free to the taxpayers. Last time I was in Washington, DC, virtually all of the museums and monuments I visited did not charge admission.
Where does our government get off telling us we have to pay to see something as relevant to our heritage as our space center? This isn’t a business or profit-making scheme, this is American culture and history. Don’t make me pay to see it.
Believe me, they will be hearing about this from me soon, and I encourage anybody else who thinks this is out-of-line to write NASA as well.