Poll Shows Public’s Space Priority is Monitoring Earth, Not Sending People to the Moon or Mars

Poll Shows Public’s Space Priority is Monitoring Earth, Not Sending People to the Moon or Mars

A new poll from Morning Consult finds that the public wants the government to focus its space research agenda on monitoring Earth’s climate, not human exploration of the Moon and Mars.  Overall it ranked space research and exploration 25th in a list of 26 priorities for the Biden Administration. However, it also wants the United States to keep its competitive edge in space over countries like Russia and China.

The top priority was monitoring Earth’s climate system for 35 percent of those surveyed, while it was “important, but lower priority” for 28 percent, “not too important of a priority” for 18 percent, “should not be done” for 7 percent, and “don’t know/no opinion” for 11 percent.

Second was monitoring asteroids that might threaten Earth and third was developing technologies that could be used broadly, not only for space.

At the bottom of the list of 10 possible priorities was sending civilians to the Moon or Mars. That was a top priority for just 6 percent, important for 18 percent, not too important for 39 percent, should not be done for 24 percent, and 12 percent did not know or had no opinion.

Ranking just above that was sending “astronauts” to the Moon or to Mars, which apparently refers to professional astronauts as compared to the general public.  NASA is embarked on the Artemis program with commercial and international partners to return people to the Moon and go on to Mars, although according to this survey only 33 percent rate the Moon goal as a top or important priority and 24 percent for Mars.

Also of interest, especially as entrepreneur Jared Isaacman is testing the waters of public interest in flying into space by choosing a person by lottery to join him on Inspiration4, of those surveyed 58 percent said they were unlikely to travel to space themselves even if price was no object.

The poll also found that while most support the Biden Administration’s decision to keep the U.S. Space Force, a sixth branch of the military created during the Trump Administration, many said they did not know or had no opinion suggesting they “might not be as up to speed on the government’s space efforts.”

Still, they want the United States to stay ahead of threats posed by other countries in space. Asked about specific countries that the Defense Intelligence Agency identifies as threats, respondents viewed China (52 percent), Russia (45 percent), North Korea (34 percent) and Iran (30 percent) as threats to U.S. security in space.

The survey of 2,200 U.S. adults was conducted February 12-15, 2021 and has a 2 percent margin of error.

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