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Public Comments Running 7 to 1 in Support of President's Vision for Space Exploration

Press Release From: President's Commission on Moon, Mars and Beyond
Posted: Friday, April 16, 2004

image Since Feb. 9, the President's Commission on Implementation of U.S. Space Exploration Policy (Moon, Mars and Beyond) has received nearly 5,000 written comments on its public website ( www.moontomars.org ). Commission Chairman E.C. "Pete" Aldridge, here for an April 15-16 public hearing with experts from the fields of education, entertainment and robotics, described the quantity and quality of the comments as "very encouraging, and indicative of the great interest in these issues, both at home and abroad."

The comments have come from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, the U.S. territories of Puerto Rico, American Samoa, the Federated States of Micronesia, and the Virgin Islands, plus 63 foreign countries. Almost two- thirds of the comments convey support for President Bush's new vision of a long-term human and robotic program to explore the solar system, announced Jan. 14, while just under 10% do not support the vision. The remaining 24% do not take a stand either way.

The states providing the most comments are California, Texas, Florida, New York, Illinois, Virginia, Ohio, Colorado, Washington and Pennsylvania. The countries providing the most comments are Canada, the U.K., Australia, the Netherlands and India. Approximately 24% of the comments are provided by people 30-39 years old, with another 24% provided by people 40-49 years old; 22% by people 20-29; 16% by people 50-59; 8% by people 60 and older; and 5% by people less than 20 years old.

Evident in the comments that support the President's vision is a strong belief that exploration is part of human nature, that space is the next frontier, and that going to the moon, Mars and beyond will reap untold benefits for all humanity. Many of the respondents believe that the future of mankind rests on success in this endeavor, and that the benefits far outweigh the cost. Other strong themes in the supportive comments include: focusing on program sustainability; building the vision into a truly national, even international, program; involving private/commercial enterprise; cooperating fully with the international community; making use of existing technology as much as possible to minimize costs and progress rapidly; and educating and involving the public in tangible ways.

Among non-supportive comments, the greatest concern is the cost of space exploration. Most of the people expressing this concern believe there are urgent problems on earth, such as the economy, education and the environment, that need to be addressed before money should be spent on space exploration.

The President's Commission on Implementation of U.S. Space Exploration Policy (Moon, Mars and Beyond) is charged with building consensus, providing recommendations to the President regarding moon research activities, increasing young people's interest in space science, and bringing in industry and other countries as space partners. Chairman Aldridge and the Commissioners are grateful for the public interest and the input, and they will address the issues -- both pro and con -- in their final report to the President.

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