But only 15% of Americans would decrease government funding of space exploration

Space exploration is popular. But would you personally go into space? The latest Economist/YouGov Poll finds the American public strongly in support of sending astronauts to the moon again and sending astronauts to explore Mars. They favor independent space exploration, like Elon Musk’s SpaceX program. But when it comes to taking the trip themselves – even if money were no object and you could afford the cost – most would reject the opportunity. 

Men certainly would think about going to the moon or taking a short flight in space, as they divide evenly on the questions. Women, however, by three to one, wouldn’t take the chance. There are also age differences, with those under 30 twice as willing as those 65 and older to fly into space. Most men under the age of 45 would go into space, but women even in those age groups would not.

Despite the personal willingness or unwillingness to replicate what SpaceX’s first private passenger will do, Americans favor space flight. Only 16% oppose sending astronauts to explore Mars, only 18% oppose sending astronauts again to the moon. Nearly half of those who wouldn’t go into space themselves favor sending astronauts there.

Majorities of men and women support the expansion of the space program. That expansion might require more funds, and the public is willing to make that investment. Twice as many support increasing tax money for space exploration as oppose doing that. While women are less likely than men to want to spend more on space, they also would increase funding rather than decrease it.

Space is one of the few issues these days on which Republicans and Democrats agree. Four in ten in each party would increase space funding, while less than one in five would decrease that funding.

But, as the SpaceX announcement demonstrates, space exploration is no longer just for governments. Americans like the competition. Nearly two in three in this poll agreed that “private companies and individuals should be able to build their own rockets to take people into space.” Just over a third would restrict space exploration to governments. Republicans and Democrats are not very different in their answers to this question. Men are enthusiastic, women are closely divided.

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