From putting the first human on the moon to launching the first space probe to go beyond our solar system, the United States has enjoyed more than its share of space firsts. But are we now losing our primacy in space? Half of Americans think so, according to a new HuffPost/YouGov poll. But many think the country should rely more on private companies -- not the government -- for future space missions.
According to the poll, 50 percent of Americans think the U.S. is losing its leadership role in space exploration, while 30 percent think it's maintaining its status as a world leader.
Many Americans think that other nations will be the most dominant players in space exploration 10 years from now. In total, 22 percent of respondents said that they think the U.S. will be the dominant player in space exploration 10 years from now, while a combined 43 percent chose another country or multinational consortium.
Specifically, 24 percent of respondents indicated that they expect China to be the most dominant. Five percent predicted it would be the European Union, 3 percent Japan, 2 percent India, and 9 percent said it would be some other country or group of countries.
Most Americans think it's at least somewhat important for the United States to maintain a leadership role in space exploration, but at the same time many believe the government shouldn't play the primary role.
Forty percent of respondents said it was very important for the U.S. to be a world leader in space exploration, while another 31 percent said that it was somewhat important. Only a combined 21 percent said it was not very or not at all important.
At the same time, half of respondents said that they think the U.S. should rely on private companies for future space missions, while only 26 percent wanted the U.S. to rely on the government.
Even among respondents who said it was very important for the U.S. to remain a leader in space exploration, more said that private companies should take the lead role, 45 percent to 39 percent.
Majorities of Republicans and independents preferred that private companies run the space program, while Democrats were equally divided on the issue.
The HuffPost/YouGov poll was conducted Nov. 5-6 among 1,000 U.S. adults using a sample selected from YouGov's opt-in online panel to match the demographics and other characteristics of the adult U.S. population. Factors considered include age, race, gender, education, employment, income, marital status, number of children, voter registration, time and location of Internet access, interest in politics, religion and church attendance.