As America prepares to celebrate the 50th anniversary of NASA later this year, a new Gallup Poll released today shows strong support for the U.S. Space Exploration Program.
The most recent poll, conducted in May 2008, is the latest in a series of four polls commissioned by the Coalition for Space Exploration in an effort to better understand the extent of support and public attitudes toward America's space program. The first three polls were conducted in June 2005, March 2006 and August 2006.
"These latest results -- as well as poll data from the last several years -- reveal that even in the midst of varying world and national circumstances, Americans still strongly support space exploration, and are willing to support its funding at current levels or even slightly increased levels," said Mary Engola, chairwoman of the Coalition for Space Exploration's Public Affairs Team. The 2008 Gallup Poll shows more than 52 percent of those surveyed would support an increase in space exploration funding. Currently, NASA's budget is less than 1 percent of the federal budget, or approximately 15 cents per day for the average, tax-paying citizen. In addition, 68 percent of all respondents surveyed agree that the benefits of space exploration outweigh the risks of human space flight.
"Space exploration has impacted the lives of every single American," Engola said. "Countless benefits from space have improved health care and medicine, enhanced public safety, and improved the agricultural and environmental industries. Space technology advances have created many industries, spawned millions of jobs and infused billions of dollars into our economy. The return on our investment has been substantial," Engola added, "And I think Americans understand that."
When asked about the educational and inspirational qualities of the space exploration program, almost 70 percent of respondents believe America's space program inspires young people to consider an education in science, technology, math or engineering fields.
"The benefits of space extend far beyond millions of homes, hospitals, schools, offices and airports," said Tracy Lamm, deputy chair of the Coalition's Public Affairs Team. "Space plays a tremendous role in encouraging and motivating students to study these exciting fields ... and today's young people are the very ones who will be making their mark on the universe as they carry out the next phase of space exploration."
Are Americans fearful that the U.S. will lose its leadership role in space to other countries that have outlined robust plans for lunar exploration? According to the poll, 68 percent of respondents are not concerned about China's intent to send probes to the Moon by 2017, nor are they concerned that America may surrender its leadership role in the space arena. These numbers mirror the findings of the previous three polls.
The Gallup Organization conducted the survey April 15-May 8, 2008. Previous polls were conducted Aug. 2-19, 2006; March 3-19, 2006; and June 9-July 1, 2005. Results for each were based on a nationally representative sample of 1,000 telephone interviews with a general population sample of adult men and women ages 18 and older residing in telephone-equipped households. Errors attributable to sampling and other random effects are plus or minus three percentage points. Other factors that can introduce error or bias in the findings of opinion polls include question wording and practical difficulties. A complete posting of the Gallup survey is available at http://www.spacecoalition.com/galluppoll.cfm.
About the Coalition for Space Exploration:
The Coalition for Space Exploration is a collaboration of space industry businesses and advocacy groups whose mission is to educate and inform the public on the value and benefits of space exploration and to help ensure the United States will remain a leader in space, science and technology -- key factors that will benefit every American, strengthen our nation's economy and maintain our national security.