In 1998, an estimated $227 billion was spent on research and development. Since 1980, industry's share of funding for research and development has grown to exceed the share provided by the federal government; the proportions in 1995 were 46% from industry and 54% from the federal government; in 1998, 66% came from industry, with 30% from the federal government, and the remainder coming from academic institutions.
In 1998 NASA's budget was $9.9 billion. In 1960 NASA spent only $1.1 billion. Launching of the space shuttle orbiter Columbia began in 1981; a fleet of four reusable shuttles, which would replace all other launch vehicles was planned. However, the January 1986 Challenger disaster, in which seven crew members died, cast doubt on the program. The three remaining shuttles were grounded, and the shuttles were redesigned for increased safety. A new shuttle, Endeavour , was built to take the place of Challenger . President Reagan, following the Challenger disaster, banned the shuttle from commercial use for nine years. The shuttles' return to space began with the launch of the shuttle Atlantis in September 1988. Following the catastrophic breakup of the space shuttle Columbia in February 2003, NASA suspended the launch schedule until the cause of the accident was determined.
An estimated 3,676 scientists and engineers per million people participated in research and development in 1987–97. In 1998, national expenditures on research and development were 2.67% of GDP. The National Science Foundation (founded in 1950) is one of the chief government agencies funding scientific research. The American Association for the Advancement of Science (founded in 1848) promotes public understanding of science and technology. The National Academy of Sciences (founded in 1863) and the National Academy of Engineering (founded in 1964) are both headquartered in Washington, D.C. In 1996, more than 95,000 students in the United States earned master's degrees in science and engineering.