In this deep prep assignment, I'd like you to consider recent public polling on American attitudes toward space exploration. Its findings are consistent with other polling data taken in the past few years.
I'm assigning this because it is important to keep in mind public opinion about issues that are important to us. You may find the results of the polling surprising, even disagreeable. But, to be a better advocate, you must be prepared for skeptics. Given the mixed results in the following poll, consider how you would work to change people's minds. In other words, how could you make space exploration feel more relevant and important for people who do not already feel that way? Be prepared to deploy that in response to a space-hesitant staffer or member of Congress.
- Nearly Half the Public Wants the U.S. to Maintain Its Space Dominance (MorningConsult, February 2021). Note the first chart on public priorities for the space program.
- For further discussions of public polling and spaceflight, I recommend this paper by NASA historian Roger Launius: Public Opinion Polls and Perceptions of U.S. Human Spaceflight, 2003.
Perhaps helpful in responding to the above issues, read through NASA's 2019 economic impact report summary. It is a reminder that everything we do out there is invested here, on Earth. This information is complementary to information found on NASA's contract listings (the NASA Procurement Data View), which you should be familiar with from the Space Advocacy 101 course.
- What are the top priority and lowest priority NASA programs in terms of broad public support?
- Is there a relationship between NASA efforts that poll well and their funding?
- How strongly do you think people hold these views?
- What states' economies are the largest beneficiaries of NASA? Is there a relationship between that and the interest displayed by those states' elected officials?