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Americans are no longer interested in colonizing the Moon, Pew Research Center poll states

By: Moon Liu

A new study by the Pew Research Center has revealed the rising disinterest in NASA’s return to the moon and demonstrated the public’s greater appeal to a program to prevent deadly asteroid crashes.

Only 12% of respondents in a survey by the Pew Research Center believe that a return to the Moon should be NASA’s greatest priority, and only 11% believe that a Mars mission should be NASA’s greatest priority. Instead, 60% believe that asteroid monitoring should be the greatest priority, and 50% of respondents believe climate change should also be one of NASA’s priorities.

Although NASA’s budget has decreased over time, it has retained its spending of $8 billion per year for its Artemis Program. Artemis is, as NASA proclaims, the sister mission to the Apollo mission, which aims to send humans to the moon permanently. Senators supporting and explaining the new spending bill have stated that NASA’s allotted money is sufficient for its plans.

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson has also stated the need for space exploration to continue competing with the China Manned Space Agency, which has established a plan to land humans on the moon by 2030 and has already conducted several missions to Mars and the Moon in the past few years. 44% of Americans believe that the United States will definitely or probably fight with other nations in space in the next fifty years.

In 2016, NASA created the Planetary Defense Coordination Office, which aims to do exactly what many respondents in the survey asked for: planetary defense against asteroids capable of calamity. In 2022, the agency successfully completed a mission aiming to redirect an asteroid away from its original path. Although this asteroid was not threatening Earth, the exercise still demonstrated NASA’s capability to defend against potential asteroid strikes.

NASA still remains a popular agency for the public, as 65% of respondents believe that its involvement in space proliferation and exploration is necessary. In comparison, only 32% believe that the private sector can manage space exploration itself.

Respondents suggested confidence in the capabilities of companies like SpaceX, Blue Origin, and Virgin Galactic. 55% of respondents believe that space tourism will be possible within the next fifty years, 41% of respondents believe that these companies are doing a good job at making space travel more accessible, and 35% believe that they would be interested in orbiting the earth in a spacecraft.

However, marks for space debris protection by these private companies are significantly lower, as only 26% of respondents believe that these private companies are doing a good job in this area. Seven in 10 Americans believe that there will be a major issue with debris in the next fifty years. Space debris has become a problem for the space industry due to its potential to destroy sensitive equipment and become an obstacle to rocket launches and satellite performance.

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