50 years later: Was the moon landing worth it?

July 19, 2019, 4:00 PM GMT+0

Americans view the 1969 Apollo moon landing as worth the effort and expense, but in the most recent YouGov poll one in five are not at all sure the moon landing ever happened. Skepticism is greater among those who weren’t alive to watch the landing themselves, and younger adults (as well as African-Americans) don’t give the moon landing the overwhelmingly positive response that others do.

African-Americans are more closely divided on whether the space mission was worth it. 44 percent say it was, but 28 percent disagree. Most adults, both black and white, would not decrease government spending on space exploration. By 57 percent to 17 percent Americans want to go back. Even those who think the first landing was faked said they favor sending astronauts to the moon, 48 percent to 26 percent.

Seeing may have been believing. While the poll did not ask Americans if they watched the moon landing live on television, those who were alive during the landing are 30 points more likely to say the possibility it was faked is “definitely” not true. Nearly three times as many 50 and under express some support for the notion that the landing itself was faked by the government.

Younger adults, however, are more accepting of space travel – even for themselves. By 42 percent to 35 percent, those who weren’t alive for the 1969 landing would pay to be a passenger on a commercial flight to the moon – and, of course, back to earth. Just 18% of those over 50 would (three in four older Americans say they would not). Just as many of those younger adults who think the moon landing might have been faked would go to the moon themselves if they could.

There is a large gender gap when it comes to travel in space. Men are 18 points more likely than women to say they would go if they could.

What does it mean if you believe the 1969 moon landing was faked? It probably means you believe other conspiracies as well. Majorities of those who say it is probably or definitely true that the moon landing was faked by the government also believe President Barack Obama probably or definitely was born in Kenya, that there is evidence that vaccines cause autism, and that Pizzagate probably or definitely is true. More than a third of them also think the earth could be flat.