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Public Opinion About Space Exploration - Personal Desire To Explore Space

gallup moon organization poll

In June 1965 the Gallup Organization asked Americans if they would personally go to the Moon if given the chance. Only 13% said yes. Thirty-four years later Gallup asked the same question and found that 27% of respondents would go to the Moon.

TABLE 9.4 Public opinion poll on the identity of the first person to walk on the Moon, 1989 and 1999 Frank Newport, "Do You Happen to Know Who Was the First Person to Walk on the Moon?" in Landing a Man on the Moon: The Public's View, The Gallup Organization, July 20, 1999, http://poll.gallup.com/content/default.aspx?ci=3712&pg=1 (accessed January 31, 2006). Copyright © 1999 by The Gallup Organization. Reproduced by permission of The Gallup Organization.

TABLE 9.4
Public opinion poll on the identity of the first person to walk on the Moon, 1989 and 1999
DO YOU HAPPEN TO KNOW WHO WAS THE FIRST PERSON TO WALK ON THE MOON?
99 Jul 13-14 89 Jul 6-9
**Incorrect; don't know.
SOURCE: Frank Newport, "Do You Happen to Know Who Was the First Person to Walk on the Moon?" in Landing a Man on the Moon: The Public's View, The Gallup Organization, July 20, 1999, http://poll.gallup.com/content/default.aspx?ci=3712&pg=1 (accessed January 31, 2006). Copyright © 1999 by The Gallup Organization. Reproduced by permission of The Gallup Organization.
Neil Armstrong 50% 39%
John Glenn 13
Alan Shepard 4
Buzz Aldrin 2
Other 3
No opinion 28 61**
100% 100%

Enthusiasm was greater for riding aboard the space shuttle. Three Gallup polls conducted between 1986 and 2003 found consistently that 30% to 40% of those asked wanted to be a passenger on a space shuttle flight.

In March 1986 nearly 40% of the respondents wanted to ride aboard the space shuttle. This value is surprising because the poll was conducted less than two months after the Challenger disaster, in which seven astronauts were killed. The 2003 poll occurred only a week after the Columbia shuttle was lost during reentry over the western United States. Again, seven astronauts died. Even in the face of that tragedy, 31% of respondents indicated a willingness to fly aboard a space shuttle sometime in the future.

The 2003 poll showed the desire to take a shuttle flight varied greatly by gender and age. Fifty-five percent of all male respondents under the age of fifty were eager to take the trip. Men older than fifty were less enthusiastic; 31% of them expressed a desire to go. Women respondents were even cooler about the idea. Only 21% of women younger than fifty and 13% of women older than fifty were enthused about taking a space shuttle flight.

In early 2004 Gallup polled teenagers aged thirteen to seventeen years about their desire to visit the Moon and Mars. As shown in Figure 9.10 a majority of those asked (59%) said they would like to go to the Moon if given the chance. Support was slightly weaker for going to Mars; 48% of the teens wanted to be the first person to go to Mars. Gallup found that the desire for space travel varied greatly by gender. Nearly three-quarters of the boys (74%) wanted to go to the Moon, compared to only 43% of the girls. Similarly, 64% of the boys wanted to be the first person to go to Mars, but only 31% of the girls expressed this desire.

FIGURE 9.10 Public opinion poll on teens' desire to visit the Moon and Mars, 2004 Heather Mason Kiefer, "Desire to Visit the Moon and Mars," in Would Today's Teens Take a Space Odyssey? The Gallup Organization, April 20, 2004, http://poll.gallup.com/content/default.aspx?ci_11410&pg_1 (accessed December 29, 2005). Copyright © 2004 by The Gallup Organization. Reproduced by permission of The Gallup Organization.

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