Space Travel: Americans prefer their feet on the ground

October 11, 2013, 6:39 PM UTC

Many Americans want to increase the amount of money spent on sending people to explore space, but would be happier if someone else does the actual exploring. 

The film Gravity, a sci-fi thriller starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, has won rave reviews and broken the box office record for an opening weekend in the month of October. Meanwhile Sir Richard Branson recently confirmed that his company, Virgin Galactic, is just months away from finishing a rocket capable of launching customers into suborbital space flights. However, and despite many Americans' enduring fascination with the final frontier, people may not be so eager to leave planet Earth after all.  

The latest YouGov research shows that the majority of Americans (54%) would not want to go into space even if money was no object, but there is a notable gender divide, with women being much more reluctant to climb aboard a rocket. 34% of men say that they would definitely travel into outer space if they had the chance, compared to only 15% of women. Overall, the figures are almost reversed, with 64% of men saying that they would go into space, and 65% of women saying that they would not go into space. 

Space travel and the opportunity to actually live on another galactic body varies largely by age. Given the option of living in a colony on Mars or the Moon, the Moon was more popular among all age groups, but the general trend is that younger people are much more likely to be willing to travel through space and build a new life off of our planet. Almost half (43%) of 18-29 year olds would live in a Moon colony, compared to 37% of 30-44 year olds, 24% of 45-64 year olds, and only 10% of people over 65.

Many Americans (39%) think that the government should increase spending on space exploration programs. More interestingly, and unlike most government programs, this is not a partisan issue, with Democrats and Republicans being divided internally as to whether government spending on this should increase or decrease. 39% of Democrats want space spending to increase, along with 33% of Republicans. 28% of Democrats - and 26% of Republicans - want space spending to be cut. 

Full poll results can be found here.

Image: Getty.