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Americans aren’t sold on the idea of returning astronauts to the moon – ANITH
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Americans aren’t sold on the idea of returning astronauts to the moon

Americans aren’t sold on the idea of returning astronauts to the moon

Interest in the final frontier isn’t going anywhere.

Earlier this year, the Pew Research Center surveyed more than 2,500 American adults, revealing that 70 percent of Americans believe it’s essential for the United States to be at the forefront of space exploration.

However, when put up against some of NASA’s other initiatives, like keeping track of our changing climate, Americans believe that human space exploration should be taking a back seat.

In fact, of the nine ways people think NASA should be utilizing its resources, anything related to physically exploring space received very little attention. Only 19 percent of those surveyed think traveling to Mars should be a “top priority” and even fewer, at 13 percent, think sending astronauts back to the moon should be a top priority. 

That’s directly in conflict with what President Donald Trump is trying to do these days.

The administration made a big show recently of saying that the U.S. is heading back to the moon and that NASA should focus on looking off Earth and extending our reach into the solar system.

To that end, the space agency’s last budget request asks for $4.6 billion for “deep space exploration.”

Americans surveyed would much rather turn NASA’s focus toward following changes in the Earth’s climate. According to the poll, 63 percent think that monitoring the climate closely should be one of NASA’s top priorities. 

Trump has made it clear that he isn’t interested in climate change. In mid March, FEMA removed climate change from its strategic plan. Then, in early April, Scott Pruitt’s Environmental Protection Agency began to weaken carbon emissions standards strengthened by the Obama administration. 

The International Space Station and space tourism

In addition to promoting another round of moon landings, Trump also plans to slowly phase out funding for the International Space Station by 2025. The $100 billion station was built by 15 countries and was launched in 1998 to be used for scientific research.

That likely isn’t a super popular idea for the majority of respondents to the Pew survey. Eighty percent said that the International Space Station was a good investment for the country.

Other notable finds in the newly released survey surround space travel.

For example, your parents and grandparents don’t want to go to space as much as you do. Only 27 percent of Baby Boomers and 39 percent of Generation Xers are “definitely or probably interested in space tourism,” compared to 63 percent of Millennials.

Pew conducted a similar survey in 2011 which found that 58 percent of Americans believed it was “essential” for the U.S. to be the leader of space exploration, but far fewer were willing to fund it.

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Anith Gopal
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