Americans continue to show solid support for NASA's plans to explore, discover and understand our universe by returning the space shuttle to flight, completing the International Space Station, and sending robot probes and humans to the Moon, Mars and beyond. That's at least one conclusion of a new Gallup survey on public attitudes about our nation's space program that was coordinated by the Space Foundation and sponsored by the Coalition for Space Exploration.
More than three-fourths (77%) of the American public say they support a new plan for space exploration that would include a stepping-stone approach to return the space shuttle to flight, complete assembly of the International Space Station, build a replacement for the shuttle, go back to the Moon and then on to Mars and beyond.
With funding for such a program expected not to exceed 1 percent of the federal budget, 51% of adults surveyed say they support the program and 26% strongly support it. Of note is that a majority of both Republicans (84%) and Democrats (77%) support such an exploration plan.
The results to this particular question are higher than measured by Gallup in 2004 when the same question was asked. In 2004, 68% of Americans supported or strongly supported the exploration plan.
"We're very happy that public support for our nation's space program continues to grow, especially as we return to flight with the Space Shuttle Discovery. To begin a new era of space exploration," said Jeff Carr, chairman of the Coalition's public affairs team.
When it comes to NASA's budget, almost three-fourths (73%) of American adults surveyed think NASA's budget should remain at its present level (36%) or be increased (37%).
NASA's current share of the total federal budget is .7%, or about $58 per year for the average citizen. During the height of Project Apollo, NASA's share of the budget was about 4 percent.
Among the Gallup survey's other findings:
The complete Gallup survey report and supporting data will be posted on the Coalition for Space Exploration Web site.
- Seven in ten adults (71%) say they are somewhat interested (49%) or very interested (22%) in America's space program.
- Of nine possible answers, most (26%) said the most popular reason why America continues to explore space is because it is human nature to do so. Almost one-fourth (24%) said it is to conduct science experiments.
- Eight in ten adults (80%) say they somewhat agree (48%) or strongly agree (32%) that America's space program helps give America the scientific and technological edge it needs to compete with other nations in the international marketplace.
- More than three-fourths (76%) of adults somewhat agree (48%) or strongly agree (28%) that America's space program benefits the nation's economy by inspiring students to pursue careers in technical fields.