Jay, I'm glad to hear you support the space program and that is neat that you worked on a component of the Mars Phoenix. I never believed if you took the money that went into the space race it would have been used to alleviate poverty - it was just a popular thing to say in that era.
I checked Wikipedia and found some interesting technologies that are considered space program spinoffs. Interestingly enough at the bottom they say Tang is one of the ones that has been mistakenly attributed as a NASA spin-off technology. I was also surprised to see MRI's beside Tang on that list. Still, the spin-off list is quite impressive.
The U.S.A did not send a man to the moon because they would see related beneficial technological breakthroughs. It was at war with an ideology that had a temporary lead in sending man into space.
If the Soviets hadn't put a man into space, teaching evolution in our schools might still be illegal.
I'm not kidding, America began spending on science and math education.
BTW, the money did alleviate poverty. I worked in the Apollo program and some of the money alleviated my poverty.
I will be voting on the 6th. I hate living in a red state. I feel as like I'm wasting my vote on who will be president. Really crossing my fingers for Obama. Four More Years! =)