Astronauts launching to International Space Station

Astronauts launching to International Space Station

Astronauts launching to International Space Station

NPR's Alexi Horowitz-Ghazi and Emily Sullivan reported in March that private companies Boeing and Space X have been involved in helping with space expeditions for the past two decades.

In a national survey of 2,541 USA adults conducted March 27-April 9, 2018, roughly seven-in-ten Americans (72%) say it is essential for the U.S.to continue to be a world leader in space exploration.

"We were struck by the finding about public priorities for NASAs mission", Cary Funk of Pew Research Center tells Axios.

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Around 65 percent of Americans believe that NASA's role in space exploration is essential, while 33 percent say that private companies could make sufficient progress without NASA's involvement. Only 18 percent of respondents said NASA should send humans to Mars and even fewer think astronauts should return to the moon.

Russian astronaut Anton Shkaplerov, Norishige Kanai of Japan and American Scott Tingle will end their 168 day mission, handing over command to the Expedition 56 crew.

Only about 7 percent of Americans surveyed said they payed close attention to space news, hearing "a lot" about NASA and commercial space in the past year.

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This issue is very relevant due to the emergence of private companies, including Elon Musk's SpaceX, that are venturing out in space.

"Strong public support that the US should continue to be at the vanguard of space exploration is widely shared across gender, educational and political groups". The Russian Soyuz MS-09 ship is set to reach the ISS on Friday.

Political leanings do play a part when it comes to assessing NASA's priorities, especially in climate issues, which is a top priority for more Democrats (78 percent) than Republicans (44 percent).

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This is not the first time that NASA has looked toward commercial collaboration.

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