17 January 2010

50% Favor Cutting Back on Space Exploration


Fifty percent (50%) of Americans now say the United States should cut back on space exploration given the current state of the economy, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey.
Just 31% disagree with cutting the space program, and 19% more are not sure.
The new findings mark a six-point increase in support - from 44% last July - for cutting back on space exploration.
Still, Americans are almost evenly divided when asked if the space program should be funded by the government or by the private sector. Thirty-five percent (35%) believe the government should pay for space research, while 38% think private interests should pick up the tab. Twenty-six percent (26%) aren’t sure which is best.
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Sixty-four percent (64%) of adults have at least a somewhat favorable view of NASA, including 18% with a very favorable opinion of the government’s chief space agency. Just 20% have a somewhat or very unfavorable opinion of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, which celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2008.
But that marks a sizable drop in support for NASA from a survey last May. At that time, 81% had a favorable view of NASA, including 24% with a very favorable opinion.
The May findings, however, were a 23-point rebound for the space agency fromJuly 2007 when just 58% had a favorable opinion. But, at that time, NASA was suffering some bad publicity, including reports about drunken astronauts.
In the budget President Obama proposes in early February, NASA is hoping for $22 billion for the coming fiscal year, up $3 billion over the current year. This funding, according to news reports, will keep the agency on track for projects including landing on one of Mars’ moons in the next 15 years and further exploring the Earth’s moon.
Women and Americans ages 18 to 29 are more strongly in support of cutting back on space exploration than are men and older adults. Democrats are more likely to agree than are Republicans and adults not affiliated with either party.
Women also feel more strongly that the space program should be funded by the private sector. But unaffiliated adults and those in both political parties are narrowly divided over whether the space program is a government or private business responsibility.
Investors are evenly divided on the question, while non-investors lean slightly more toward private sector financing.
Only 27% of Americans believe the current goals of the space program should include sending someone to Mars. Fifty percent (50%) oppose such a mission, with 24% undecided. The findings on this question are unchanged from last July.
The feelings are virtually identical about sending someone to the moon. Twenty-six percent (26%) like the idea, but twice as money (52%) are opposed to sending someone to the moon as one of the current goals of the space program.
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That article brings to mind the famous Matula poll cited in the NSSO Report:

Note that the public is 3x as excited about Space Solar Power than Mars or the Moon, and 2x more excited about Planetary Defense than Mars or the Moon.  Of course, the Moon is important for Space Solar Power, but the Moon's importance MUST be seen in the context of Space INDUSTRIALIZATION and DEVELOPMENT, NOT in terms of Space Exploration.  The poll rightly shows the public is smarter than the policymakers.  They recognize that exploration is not the right game for the 21st century, and want more emphasis on development.  They see the possibilities of commercial space, and want to see NASA play an enabling not inhibiting role.  Which means NASA can't continue to be a National Socialist Space-lines, but rather the anchor customer supporting the industry, and conducting pre-competitive research.

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