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Most Americans think NASA and private companies should have role in space program

CBS Poll: Apollo 11 still source of pride

Most Americans think the U.S. space program contributes scientific advances, pride and patriotism to the country, and increasing numbers think we are not spending enough on it. However, a majority of Americans also think that both the government and private sector should be involved in space exploration.

Americans are divided on whether the U.S. is still the world leader in space exploration — and whether it is even important that the U.S. be the world leader.

The public sees benefits in the U.S. space program in terms of scientific advances and national pride. Seventy-nine percent of Americans say the space program contributes at least some to advances that all Americans can use. And 73% say the U.S. space program makes at least some contribution to America's pride and patriotism, including 39% who say it does so a lot.

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Americans see a role for both the public and private sectors. Most — 70% — think both NASA and private companies should be involved in space exploration.

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Thirty-one percent of Americans feel the U.S. spends the right amount on space. Though still less than a third of all Americans who say so, more Americans feel we are spending too little on space exploration than felt that way 10 years ago (16%) and 20 years ago (15%), around the 30th anniversary of the moon landing. 

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Younger Americans are particularly likely to say we are spending too little on space. Thirty-eight percent of Americans under thirty think we are spending too little, compared to 29% of Americans age 30 and older. 

Forty-six percent of Americans say the U.S. is still the world leader in space exploration, while 43% think the U.S. has started to fall behind other countries.

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But not all Americans think leading the world in space exploration is important. Forty-eight percent of Americans think it's important for the U.S. to be the world leader in space, while 43% think the U.S. should continue to be involved, but doesn't need to be the leader.  

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This poll was conducted by telephone June 13-16, 2019 among a random sample of 1,201 adults nationwide.  Data collection was conducted on behalf of CBS News by SSRS of Glen Mills, PA.  Phone numbers were dialed from samples of both standard land-line and cell phones.

The poll employed a random digit dial methodology. For the landline sample, a respondent was randomly selected from all adults in the household. For the cell sample, interviews were conducted with the person who answered the phone. Interviews were conducted in English and Spanish using live interviewers. The data have been weighted to reflect U.S. Census figures on demographic variables. The error due to sampling for results based on the entire sample could be plus or minus three percentage points. The error for subgroups may be higher and is available by request. The margin of error includes the effects of standard weighting procedures which enlarge sampling error slightly.

An oversample of Americans age 65 and older was interviewed for a total of 448 interviews with respondents age 65 and older. The results were then weighted in proportion to the adult population. The margin of error for the sample of Americans age 65 and older is plus or minus six points.

This poll release conforms to the Standards of Disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

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