SURVEY SAYS: What About the Space Program's Future?

July 21, 2011 ( – Yesterday was the anniversary of man’s first steps on the moon.


Of course, at this writing we are waiting for the last of the scheduled Space Shuttle missions to come to an end. All in all, it seems fair to say that the nation’s space program faces an uncertain future. This week, I asked readers about their feelings on space exploration, and our nation’s commitment to those endeavors going forward?

Well, at some level, when it comes to space exploration, this week’s respondents would like to see us do more – but…

On the one hand, a slim plurality (41.2%) agreed with the proposition that “I’d like to see us do more, but we have higher priorities here on earth.”  And yet, nearly as many (39.7%) felt that “We should be doing more to explore space, like going to the Moon or to Mars.”

That said, a full one-in-ten (10.3%) said they didn’t think it was important to explore space, while the remaining 8.8% were “satisfied with what we’ve done and what we’re currently doing in space.”

Now, as you might expect from those results, this week’s survey respondents were of two minds (at least) when it came to space exploration – and the verbatim comments ran the gamut. 


"The space program is the kind of wasteful government spending of which I approve.  Our War on Poverty yielded multiple generations locked into a cycle of poverty through government dependency.  Our space program yielded huge gains in telecommunications, aerospace technology, and, of course, dehydrated foodstuffs.

If we are going to waste money, I'd rather waste it on space exploration than on welfare queens and kings."

The space program brought world-wide fame, glory and respect to the US.  Walking away from it only reinforces the negative attitude of the current administration toward respect, pride and patriotism.  It seems like becoming a second-rate socialist redistributor of wealth is the new goal.  Ugh!

I think it is good to stop exploration right now and focus on the problems we have on earth.  We need to get the financial and moral issues figured out before we try and figure out the problems in space!

But let's privatize the program...sell it to some multi-millionaire

Although, I think private interprises could take this on in a more efficient manner.

Let's go get all that titanium up there and save the US economy.

The research that is done in order to further space exploration has proved over and over that it has significant benefits for everyday living on earth.

I feel like we should continue to explore space, but there are a lot of things to accomplish here and money seems to be short so I am torn.  Do we seek out new opportunities or do we take care of our current business.  Either way.  it is sad to see the program ending.


Exploring space has provided many enhancements to life on earth; we should not be abandoning this program that has been built up over many administrations and several decades - what a waste to end it on someone's whim, especially when what passes for "important" these days is merely trivial and of little use.

"I think the space exploration program gives us all something positive and bigger than ourselves to look up to.  Gets our minds off from all the day to day problems, wars, and crises."

How ironic that our astronauts will now need to take off from Russia, to journey through space...

The accomplishments of the space program in the past 50 years are monumental!  I am happy that the US has taken a lead role in space exploration.  It's a shame that we don't have the future direction and goals established for the space program.  I hope that NASA engineering and scientific talent does not bolt to other countries.

The research that went into the space program pushed American (and world) technology development to new heights. Products and inventions that are now considered commonplace came from the science that put a man on the moon (Tang, anyone?). We need to keep it up, not just for what we might find out there, but to see what we can come up with next down here.

I'm shocked (SHOCKED!) that the US is outsourcing something to a foreign country.


Personally I'd rather see all that money go into stuff like finding a cure for cancer than to find out that the moon is not actually made of cheese.

The space program has delivered incredible technological advances in science, medicine, manufacturing and virtually every other area of human existence.  It is more than transporting a person or thing to a far-flung location, as critics seem to describe it.  There is always room for improving and streamlining the program, but it appears to be going in a very disadvantageous direction for America's interests and I believe we will regret our decision to eliminate or privatize major aspects of the program.

We've got to continue to grow and explore the possibilities of what's out there in the universe.  Exploration and research is what helps propel us to better the human condition.  It brings hope and inspiration to all of us.

Having lived in Houston for 30 years, I've seen it all.  Effectively disbanding the scientists and technical people who made it happen is a giant brain-loss.  NASA's accomplishments go far beyond Velcro, GPS and satellite communications that we all enjoy, and depend on, today!  Many are responsible for our country's safety today.

I remember seeing Armstrong take that first step on the moon and it gave me chills but 40 years later I think we now need to get a firm footing on earth and start getting the mess here fixed


It appears we've learned we can't live on the Moon or Mars....but there is so much more we should be doing in space exploration and related sciences. Do we really want China and Russia ahead on us on this?

"We have gone from a nation that values investing in future technologies and exploring to worrying about how to deal with long term debt.  For the first time since Sputnik, we have no plans to explore space.  Americans should rightly worry about the US's decline as a world power."

I hope the space program continues after we pay off some of our tremendous national debt.

Putting it into private hands will definitely speed development. Private companies may also be willing to make some riskier decisions to move things along. Not sure if that's good or bad.

I hope that the drive to reach farther continues, because the more we stretch our knowledge in that direction, the more we stretch what we can do here. I just wish that we could recapture some of the "wow" factor that was present when we first went to the moon. We've become pretty jaded about the accomplishments that we've made in exploring outside our planet, and I think that may tend to slow down significant breakthroughs in the future.

If you cease space exploration and its programs, how do you handle all of the communities that base their economy on the nation's space program?  Are there better ways to inspire the nation now?  I don't know.

America has always led in space exploration. It is deplorable that we have frittered away trillions in our tax dollars on failed social engineering programs that have yielded no positive results . Had our political "leaders" possessed a modicum of wisdom, some of this wasted money could have been allocated to space exploration. Now we're broke and for the time being we're forfeiting our leadership in space exploration to a failed socialist state-Russia.


The space program has led to many innovations that are used throughout all aspects of society today so I believe we have all gained from the efforts. We live on a planet with finite resources and at some point will need to look beyond the planet. We need the challenges and eventually the resources space can provide. It is worthwhile to continue our explorations.

I think we owe it to ourselves as curious human beings to continue to explore the unknown.  The space program is very visible and did have some tangible benefits, aside from the pure research value and sense of accomplishment and fun.  Its cost was frankly small in comparison to many other government programs, and we all got to share in the benefits.

I grew up during the 1960s, was captivated by the space program and learned a lot about space and the moon, etc.

I feel that the direction the space program has taken, more than any other single decision, reflects our nation's loss of the pioneer spirit.  We have truly lost the thinking, drive, and independence that made us the greatest nation in only two hundred years.  It is a real shame.

Those who oppose the space program are ignoring all the things we have today that were a result of the necessities of the space program; things like glass coffee pots, non-stick pans, digital readouts and many of the safety features on automobiles.  It's more than an opportunity to learn about the vast universe we inhabit.  It's a real way to improve the way we live on earth.


We need to set national priorities and funding policies in line with the priorities.  Space exploration is competing with other objectives such as providing health care for all citizens/residents, being the world's police force, Social Security, maintaining aging infrastructure, etc.

Why not put the money that would have been spent on a space program into feeding the homeless and upgrading the school system right here in our own country?

I still remember sitting in the gym, on the hard floor, watching the Gemini launches.

It was a great time romancing that stone, but it's time to pull back a bit. We continue to think Star Trek with Model-T means. We have plenty of space between the ears that needs addressing.

If ET is out there, I'm guessing he's already been there, done that and bought the t-shirt and there's a good reason he's not sharing it, yet. I'm not sure I would trust us with it either.

But this week’s Editor’s Choice goes to the reader who said, “Thank you to the brave and talented individuals that forged this program and served through many difficult times and great achievements.  Many of us appreciate your contributions and service.”

Thanks to everyone who participated in our survey!