"No bucks, no Buck Rogers” is a popular space industry adage meaning that unless there is money (such as from the federal government), there can be no space adventures (like Buck Rogers, a character from space science fiction of the 1920s). The saying does not appear in Tom Wolfe‘s book The Right Stuff (1979), about the first Project Mercury astronauts selected for the NASA space program. However, the line was made famous in the film The Right Stuff (1983), written and directed by Philip Kaufman.
The saying is still used in the space industry, usually with a nod to its source.
Wikipedia: Buck Rogers
Buck Rogers is a fictional character who first appeared in a novella titled Armageddon 2419 A.D. by Philip Francis Nowlan published in the August 1928 issue of the pulp magazine Amazing Stories as Anthony Rogers. A sequel, The Airlords of Han, was published in the March 1929 issue.
In The Right Stuff, the 1983 film about the U.S. supersonic test pilots of the 1940s and 1950s and the early days of the U.S. space program, in one scene, the character of the air force Liaison Man tells test pilots Chuck Yeager and Jack Ridley and test pilots and future Mercury Seven astronauts Gus Grissom, Deke Slayton and Gordon Cooper about the need for positive media coverage in order to assure continued government funding for the rocket program, dramatically declaring “no bucks - no Buck Rogers!” In a later scene in which the seven astronauts confront the NASA rocket scientists who have been running the program to demand changes to allow them to fly their spacecraft as actual pilots rather than as mere passive passengers in vehicles totally controlled from the ground—threatening to reveal to the press how they were being marginalized despite their public status as heroes, which would in turn damage Congressional support for the program—Cooper, Grissom and Slayton repeat the “no bucks- no Buck Rogers!” speech to the startled scientists to make their point.
IMDb (The Internet Movie Database)
The Right Stuff (1983)
Recruiter: Funding. That’s what makes your ships go up. I’ll tell you something, and you guys too: No bucks, no Buck Rodgers.
Gordon Cooper: You boys know what makes this bird go up? FUNDING makes this bird go up.
Gus Grissom: He’s right. No bucks, no Buck Rogers.
1985 NASA Authorization:
Hearing Before the Subcommittee on Transportation, Aviation, and Materials of the Committee on Science and Technology, U.S. House of Representatives, Ninety-eighth Congress, Second Session, Part 2
By United States. Congress. House. Committee on Science and Technology. Subcommittee on Transportation, Aviation, and Materials
Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office
Mr. NELSON. Do you think there is some truth to the practicality of Washington politics, that “no Buck Rogers, no bucks?
NASA No bucks, no Buck Rogers
Uploaded on Jul 21, 2009
NASA No bucks, no Buck Rogers.CNN’s Sean Callebs reports on NASA plans to go to the moon, but budget constraints could give other countries an edge in space.
A Way with Words
No Bucks, No Buck Rogers
Posted by Grant Barrett on November 3, 2012
The phrase “no bucks, no Buck Rogers,” made popular by the 1983 film The Right Stuff, has seen a renaissance in usage among pilots. That is, if you don’t pay them what they believe they’re worth, they’re not going to fly.
The phrase “no bucks, no Buck Rogers” represented the idea that progress would not come without spending money. #SciFi
3:00 AM - 6 Jul 2015
Seeing amazing #PlutoFlyby images reminds me of #TheRightStuff: “No bucks, no Buck Rogers.” We need to invest in science.
9:35 PM - 14 Jul 2015
Pantagraph (Bloomington, IL)
July 26, 2015
A snapshot in space: Book chronicles the early space race
“There’s an old saying (in the space business),” Pickering said. “No bucks … no Buck Rogers.”