Thumbs Up for Apollo 11; Current Efforts, Less So

Jul 19, 2009 6:06pm

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.

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