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Americans Prioritize NASA Monitoring Asteroids?

By: Tiffany Wong

The Pew Research Center survey revealed that a majority of Americans think NASA's focus should be on monitoring asteroids with Earth-threatening potential. The second-most popular priority is sending astronauts back to the moon. NASA is planning its Artemis II mission to send four astronauts around the moon in 2024.

Despite competition with other countries, NASA remains popular with 65% of American respondents in the survey saying it is important for NASA to continue exploring space. The survey also found that private space companies like SpaceX, Blue Origin, and Virgin Galactic are viewed positively for building safe and reliable spacecrafts.

However, when it comes to limiting space debris, which travels at high speeds and can cause significant damage, commercial space companies received lower marks across the survey. Only 21% of participants thought these companies were good at limiting debris, and 26% thought they were mostly bad at doing so. Additionally, 53% of respondents were unsure about how well these companies were doing on the issue.

According to the Washington Post, Pew's survey found that 7 in 10 Americans believe there will be a "major problem with debris" over the next 50 years, and nearly half of respondents believe that the United States will engage in conflict with other nations in space during the same period. Lastly, while over half of U.S. adults believe that people will travel routinely to space as tourists in the next 50 years, only 35% would be interested in orbiting Earth in a spacecraft.

The Artemis I mission had already sent an unmanned spacecraft to orbit the moon. NASA wants to land astronauts on the moon by 2025 but may not have enough funding. China aims to send its own astronauts to the moon by 2030, and both countries plan to explore the lunar south pole where ice has been found.

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