Poll: Continue Shuttle Program

Space shuttle Endeavour returns to the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral, Fla. Saturday Dec. 7, 2002. Police and fire department vehicles are shown in center. Endeavour's return was delayed by weather for a record three straight days AP

While the country mourns the loss of the Space Shuttle Columbia and its crew of seven astronauts, a CBS News Poll finds most Americans think the Shuttle program is worth continuing and many say the U.S. space program contributes significantly to both scientific advances and America's pride and patriotism.

Three-quarters say, despite the costs and risks, the Space Shuttle is worth continuing. Just 19% say it is not. Men and women agree, though there are differences according to age. Those under age 30 are the most supportive of continuing the Shuttle program.

Overall, views of the Space Shuttle program are the same as they were in the summer of 1999, around the time of the 30th anniversary of the moon landing. In January 1986, shortly after the Challenger disaster, 80% of Americans thought the Shuttle program was worth continuing, while 14% thought it was not.


IS THE SPACE SHUTTLE PROGRAM WORTH CONTINUING?

Now
Yes 75%

No 19%


August 1999
Yes 72%

No 22%


Jan. 1986
Yes 80%

No 14%



Prior to the explosion of the Shuttle last weekend, President George W. Bush called for a 3% increase in NASA's budget. 23% of Americans would agree, saying the country is spending too little on space exploration. But most see no need for an increase. 34% of Americans now say the U.S. is spending the right amount on space exploration programs, and 27% say it is spending too much. Women are more likely than men to say too much money is being spent on space exploration.

HOW MUCH ARE WE SPENDING ON SPACE EXPLORATION PROGRAMS?

Now
Too Much 27%

Too Little 23%

Right Amount 34%


August 1999
Too Much 37%

Too Little 15%

Right Amount 35%


Jan. 1986
Too Much 40%

Too Little 12%

Right Amount 37%


However, there is greater support for a budget increase now than there was in 1986. After the Challenger disaster, 40% thought too much was being spent and just 12% thought not enough was being spent.

Whatever the monetary costs, the public sees advantages in the U.S. space program. 80% of Americans say the program contributes to scientific advances that all Americans can use. More than a third says the space program contributes a lot to this.

But even more say the U.S. space program contributes to this country's pride and patriotism. 85% say this is the case, including more than half who say the space program contributes a lot to Americans' pride and patriotism.

HOW MUCH DOES THE SPACE PROGRAM CONTRIBUTE TO … ?

Scientific Advances
A Lot 35%

Some 45%

Not much/none 14%


Pride and Patriotism
A Lot 54%

Some 31%

Not much/none 11%




This poll was conducted among a nationwide random sample of 831 adults, interviewed by telephone February 5-6, 2003. The error due to sampling for results based on the entire sample could be plus or minus three percentage points. Sampling error for subgroups may be higher.

For detailed information on how CBS News conducts public opinion surveys, click here.

  • John Esterbrook

Comments

Watch CBSN Live

Watch CBS News anytime, anywhere with the new 24/7 digital news network. Stream CBSN live or on demand for FREE on your TV, computer, tablet, or smartphone.