Americans are as supportive as ever of the moon landing 40 years ago tomorrow – but far less persuaded of the value of today’s space program overall.
Seventy percent in this ABC News/Washington Post poll say the lunar landing was worth it. That’s about the same as at the 30th anniversary in 1999, and up sharply from 1979, when – perhaps still smarting from the cost – just 47 percent called it worthwhile.
In another measure, though, there’s been a decline in the number who say the continuing space program has brought enough benefits to justify its costs – just 51 percent now, the fewest since 1994 and down from its high, 65 percent, in 2003.
Moon landing worth the effort? Yes NoNow 70% 27%1999* 71 241979* 47 49 *CBS
Space program justify its costs? Yes NoNow 51% 43%2003 65 291999* 55 401979** 41 53*Gallup, **NBC/AP
The decline has occurred, to varying degrees, across the board; the straitened economic times might be one factor in the cost-benefit analysis. The program’s somewhat less popular among women (47 percent say it’s justified its cost) than men (55 percent), and more popular with better-educated and higher-income adults.
The moon landing, for its part, is least likely to be seen as worthwhile by people who were adults at the time. Among those 58 and over – at least 18 at the time of Apollo 11 – 55 percent now say it was worth the effort. By contrast, among adults under 40 – not yet born when the Eagle touched down – far more, 79 percent, call it a worthwhile effort.
(For more on the views of the space program, see my post last week.)
Click here for a PDF with the full questionnaire.