In Case You Missed It: Public Views on the Space Program

Image (Credit): Size of the Earth compared to Mars and the Moon. (

Back in July 2019, the Pew Research Institute issued the results of earlier surveys about the US space program. Let’s look at the answers to six of the questions:

  1. Most Americans think sending astronauts to Mars or the Moon should be a lower priority for NASA – or say it should not be done at all (see graphic below).
  2. Americans see priorities other than a Moon or Mars landing as more pressing for NASA.
  3. Half of Americans think space travel will become routine during the next 50 years of space exploration.
  4. A majority of Americans say the U.S. must remain a global leader in space exploration, and that NASA’s continued involvement is essential.
  5. Americans have little confidence that private space companies will minimize space debris. 
  6. Americans are not enthusiastic about the idea of creating a military Space Force.

NASA may not be listening given that a trip back to the Moon was the lowest priority of Americans and yet is it the largest program currently in the U.S. space program, with a Moon satellite and trip to Mars as part of future plans. As far as minimizing space debris, the public seemed right on the mark regarding private space companies. If Elon Musk is any indicator, the commercial sector will not be deterred as it adds thousands of new satellites and related debris. And the ship has sailed on the Space Force question with the creation of the US Space Force in December 2019.

This would not be the first time Washington, DC goes down its own path regardless of public sentiment.

Image (Credit): Second question on the Pew survey on the space program. (Pew Research Institute)