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Sen. Coburn: NASA Wastes More Than $3 Billion on Pork Projects Like Golf Club Testing, Comic-Con

Katherine Rodriguez
By Katherine Rodriguez | October 22, 2014 | 5:45 PM EDT

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) may be retiring at the end of his term, but he didn't want to leave without exposing $25 billion in unnecessary federal government projects.

Of that $25 billion, NASA spent more than $3 billion of taxpayer money out of its $17.7 billion budget on things from golf-club testing to studies on how humans will react to meeting space aliens.

Coburn listed seven instances where NASA wasted taxpayer money to the tune of $3,086,432,000:

  • Golf Club Testing, Elementary School Experiments Aboard the Space Station- $3 billion
  • NASA's A3 Rocket-Testing Tower aka the "Tower of Pork"- $44.5 million
  • NASA Study on How Humans React to Space Aliens- $392,000
  • NASA at Comic-Con- $10,000
  • NASA Study Predicting the Collapse of Human Civilization- $30,000
  • NASA's Loss of Electronic Devices- $1.1 million
  • NASA's Near-Earth Object Program- $40.5 million

"With no one watching over the vast bureaucracy, the problem is not just what Washington isn’t doing, but what it is doing." Dr. Coburn said in a press release. "Only someone with too much of someone else’s money and not enough accountability for how it was being spent could come up with some of these projects."

The Oklahoma Senator has publicly called out his colleagues for force-funding a $350 million NASA launch-pad tower that was supposed to support a rocket-launch program shuttered four years ago.

Even though Congress scrapped the tower project, here are four examples of how NASA is wasting your money:

1. Golf Club Testing, Elementary School Experiments Aboard the International Space Station: $3 Billion

NASA has been testing golf-clubs aboard the International Space Station thanks to an agreement with Cobra Puma Golf in order to examine coating materials of golf clubs.

The agency has also supported school science projects on the taxpayer dime.  The groundbreaking study: The "effect of microgravity on the growth of mold on white bread."

moldy bread on Make A Gif

2. NASA Wonders How Humans Will React to Space Aliens: $392,000

An official NASA document justified the study, saying that "communicating with intelligent terrestrial beings removed from us in time can be deeply problematic."

ET Face on Make A Gif

3. NASA Loses Hundreds of Electronic Devices Each Month: $1.1 Million

A report from NASA's inspector general said that NASA did not have a "complete and accurate inventory of agency-issued smartphones, tablets, cellphones, and Aircards."  The IT contractor reported that 14 percent of electronic devices went unused for seven months from 2013-2014.  Estimated cost of unused and lost devices: $97,000 per month.

lost iphone on Make A Gif

4. NASA Predicts the Collapse of Human Civilization: $30,000

A study that claims human civilization might be on the verge of collapse cost $30,000.  NASA tried to dismiss it as a "thought experiment" based in theory, but didn't deny that money from NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center and The University of Maryland was used to fund the project.