Should private companies or government agencies be responsible for space travel?

Linley SandersSenior Data Journalist
July 13, 2021, 4:00 PM UTC

In recent years, NASA has teamed up with private, for-profit rocket companies to transport humans to outer space. Such partnerships launched billionaire Richard Branson into space via his private company Virgin Galactic on July 11, with assistance from NASA. Other for-profit organizations, including Jeff Bezo's Blue Origin and Elon Musk’s SpaceX hope to follow. Such partnerships between government agencies and private companies aspire to expand space exploration at a rapid rate.   

A YouGov poll on space travel shows that Americans are generally split between whether the government should be fully responsible for space activities, or whether they should share that power with private companies. 

One-third of Americans think national government agencies, such as NASA, should solely be responsible for sending astronauts to the moon, the International Space Station, or Mars (37% in all three cases). A similar number instead believe national governments and private companies should share the duty of sending humans to the ISS (35%), the moon (35%), or Mars (33%). 

The only area where Americans specifically want the federal government to remain in control is when it comes to the launching of military satellites: 54% say the government should be exclusively responsible for those ventures. About one in five (18%) believe it could be a shared responsibility between the government and private entities. 

See the crosstabs from this YouGov poll.  

Methodology: 1,312 US adults were surveyed in this YouGov RealTime survey between May 7-10, 2021. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all US adults (aged 18+). 

Image: Pexels from SpaceX

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