Public Favorable Toward NASA, Space Exploration

by Jeffrey M. Jones

Majority gives NASA positive job reviews

GALLUP NEWS SERVICE

PRINCETON, NJ -- NASA is making news again as one of its missions comes to an end and another is set to begin. The Stardust space capsule finished a seven-year mission collecting particles from a comet, and this week NASA launches the New Horizons probe that will fly to Pluto on a nine-year mission. Previous Gallup polling has shown that Americans generally view NASA favorably, and favor government spending on space exploration at current or higher levels.

Gallup last asked Americans to rate the job NASA was doing in August 2005. In that poll, 60% said NASA was doing a good job, including 16% who said "excellent." Twenty-nine percent thought NASA was doing a "fair" job, and 8% said it was doing a "poor" job.

The public has generally been positive toward NASA over the years, with a measured high of 76% positive ratings shortly after former Sen. John Glenn returned to space on a space shuttle mission.

Additionally, Americans are supportive of federal spending on space exploration. In an August 2003 CNN/USA Today/Gallup survey, three-quarters of Americans thought spending should be kept at its present level (51%) or increased (24%). Twenty-four percent thought it should be decreased (17%) or ended altogether (7%). Gallup found similar results in a slightly different question it asked in a survey conducted for the Space Foundation in the summer of 2004.

Survey Methods

These results are based on telephone interviews with randomly selected national samples of approximately 1,000 adults, aged 18 years and older. For results based on these samples, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum error attributable to sampling and other random effects is ±3 percentage points. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

How would you rate the job being done by NASA -- the U.S. space agency? Would you say it is doing an excellent, good, only fair, or poor job?

Excellent

Good

Only fair

Poor

No opinion

%

%

%

%

%

2005 Aug 5-7

16

44

29

8

3

2005 Jun 24-26

11

42

34

6

7

2003 Sep 8-10

12

38

36

10

4

1999 Dec 9-12

13

40

31

12

4

1999 Jul 13-4

20

44

20

5

11

1998 Nov 20-22

26

50

17

4

3

1998 Jan 30-Feb 1

21

46

21

4

8

1994 Jul 15-17

14

43

29

6

8

1993 Dec 17-19

18

43

30

7

2

1993 Sept 13-15

7

36

35

11

11

1991 May 2-5

16

48

24

6

6

1990 July 19-22

10

36

34

15

5

Now I'd like to ask you about government spending on NASA. In answering, please bear in mind that sooner or later all government spending has to be taken out of the taxes that you and other Americans pay. Do you think spending on the U.S. space program should be increased, kept at the present level, reduced, or ended altogether?

Increased

Current
levels

Decreased

Ended
altogether

No
opinion

%

%

%

%

%

2003 Aug 4-6

24

51

17

7

1

2003 Feb 7-9

25

49

17

7

2

1999 Dec 9-12

16

49

24

10

1

1999 Jul 13-14

18

45

26

8

3

1998 Nov 20-22

21

47

26

4

2

1993 Dec 17-19

11

42

38

8

1

1993 Sep 13-15

9

37

41

10

3

1991 May 2-5

21

44

28

3

4

1989 Jul 6-9

27

42

22

4

5

1986 Jan 29-30

26

50

14

5

5

1984 Jan 30-Feb 6

21

48

23

5

4

It has been estimated that NASA's (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) budget request this year (2004) would be under one percent of the federal budget which would amount to approximately $55 per year for the average taxpayer. Do you think the nation should continue to fund space exploration ... at this current level, at a slightly increased level, at a significantly increased level, at a slightly decreased level, or at a significantly decreased level?

2004 June 22-July 7^

%

Significantly increased level

7

Slightly increased level

19

Current level

37

Slightly decreased level

15

Significantly decreased level

8

Not fund at all

13

No opinion

2

^ Gallup poll for the Space Foundation

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