Attitudes Toward Space Exploration

New C-SPAN/Ipsos Poll

The author(s)
  • Chris Jackson Senior Vice President, US, Public Affairs
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Washington, DC, July 10, 2019 - Our survey finds that over three-quarters of Americans have a favorable view of NASA. This positive view extends to widespread belief that space exploration promotes scientific discoveries (80%), inspires young people (77%), and helps monitor natural disasters (73%). Furthermore, over two-thirds of Americans agree that space exploration "is necessary.”

While only a small majority say they are familiar with space exploration or astronomy (56% each), and only 5% consider themselves very well-informed, majorities have watched natural wonders like lunar eclipses (75%), shooting stars (68%), or meteor showers (52%). Additionally, two-thirds of Americans (65%) say they have watched a space shuttle launch live either in-person, on TV, or via the internet.

However, while this study shows that many have been touched by the space program, a much smaller population are enthusiasts for the space program. About one in five Americans classify themselves as "very interested" in space exploration, and only about a third believe the benefits are greater than the costs. Similar numbers say they aspired to be an astronaut as a child (23%) or would travel to space if given the opportunity (31%).

Some of the public discomfort with the space program might connect to how people perceive the price tag. This study conducted an experiment asking people if NASA's budget was too much, too little, or about right using three different ways to conceive the cost. When presented with the direct "$21.5 billion," more people said NASA's budget was too much (27%) than too little (20%). However, when the same amount was described as "0.5% of the national budget" or "$70 per American", significantly more people said NASA's budget was too little, by up to a four-to-one ratio (41% and 31%, respectively).

About the Study

The study was conducted online in Ipsos’s Omnibus using the web-enabled “KnowledgePanel,” a probability-based panel designed to be representative of the US general population, not just the online population. The study consisted of 1,020 nationally representative interviews conducted between June 14 and June 16, 2019 among adults aged 18+. The margin of error is +/-3 percentage points.

KnowledgePanel® is a web enabled probability-based panel designed to be representative of the U.S. population. Initially, participants are chosen scientifically by a random selection of telephone numbers and residential addresses. Persons in selected households are then invited by telephone or by mail to participate in the web-enabled KnowledgePanel®. For those who agree to participate, but do not already have Internet access, Ipsos provides at no cost a laptop and ISP connection. People who already have computers and Internet service are permitted to participate using their own equipment. Panelists then receive unique log-in information for accessing surveys online, and then are sent emails throughout each month inviting them to participate in research.

For more information on this news release, please contact:

Chris Jackson
Vice President, U.S.
Ipsos Public Affairs
[email protected]

About Ipsos

Ipsos is a global independent market research company. Our team of 18,000 across 90 countries serves 5,000 clients and undertakes 70,000 different projects each year. Our polling practice is a non-partisan, objective, survey-based research practice made up of seasoned professionals. We conduct strategic research initiatives for a diverse number of American and international organizations, based not only on public opinion research, but elite stakeholder, corporate, and media opinion research.

As a global research and insights organization, Ipsos aims to make our changing world easier and faster to navigate and to inspire our clients to make smarter decisions. We are committed to driving the industry with innovative, best-in-class research techniques that are meaningful in today’s connected society. We deliver research with security, speed, simplicity, and substance. Our tagline “Game Changers” summarizes our ambition.

Ipsos is committed to building an organization dedicated to a single endeavor: providing our clients with the best service, using qualitative or quantitative methods, at local, regional, and international levels. This is what drives us to ask and probe, to subject our hypotheses to rigorous analyses, and, finally, to deliver reliable data and the most effective recommendations in the shortest time possible. Ipsos has been listed on the Paris Stock Exchange since 1999 and generated global revenues of €1,749.5 million in 2018.


The author(s)
  • Chris Jackson Senior Vice President, US, Public Affairs