Earlier this week, Maven conducted a Survey of space exploration experts to learn their opinions of the future of the US space program and manned spaceflight. Check out the graphic below for key results (click anywhere on the image for a full-sized view). Below the graphic is a list of all questions asked in this Survey. Also, click here for additional commentary on the Survey.
The Future of the US Space Program
This week’s scheduled return of the space shuttle Atlantis to Earth will mark the end of NASA’s space shuttle program, leaving the United States without manned spaceflight capability until at least 2015. Does this signify the end of America’s space dominance or the beginning of a bold new era of faster, more efficient space exploration built on innovations from private industry and foreign cooperation?
Maven would like to hear from space program and manned spaceflight experts on the future of NASA and the US space program.
Question 01: Which of the following best describes you? (select one)
- I am currently directly involved with the US space program.
- I am a consultant, analyst, journalist, or other outside observer who closely follows the space program for professional reasons
- I am not directly involved with the US space program, but I have been within the past ten years.
- I was involved in the US space program more than 10 years ago, but have not been involved with it since.
- I am a former astronaut.
- I have never been involved in any way with the US space program.
Question 02: Which of the following statements best describes your opinion of the need for continued space exploration? (select one)
- Extremely Important – Continued space exploration is vital to humanity’s future.
- Very Important – Continued space exploration is a major priority, but is not absolutely necessary.
- Somewhat Important – Continued space exploration is “nice to have” but is much less important than other issues facing humanity.
- Not Important – Continued space exploration is unnecessary and a waste of time and money.
Question 03: Which of the following best describes your opinion of NASA? (select one)
- NASA will remain the most important contributor to manned spaceflight for the foreseeable future.
- NASA will remain an important contributor to manned spaceflight, but will no longer be the most important player.
- NASA’s role in manned spaceflight will decline considerably, rendering it a minor player in the future.
- NASA is no longer a viable participant in manned spaceflight and should be disbanded.
Question 04: Yes or No – In your opinion, was ending the shuttle program now the right decision?
Question 05: In the year 2020, I predict that space exploration in the United States will be driven: (select one)
- entirely by NASA.
- mostly by NASA.
- equally by NASA and private industry.
- mostly by private industry.
- entirely by private industry.
Question 06: Which of the following countries will be the next to land a human on the moon? (select one)
- The United States
- The European Union
- A combination of one or more of the above working together.
- Other (please specify in your response to Question 11 below)
- I do not believe that humanity will reach the moon again.
Question 07: Assuming space exploration continues, which of the following projects do you consider the most important next step? (select one)
- Expansion of the Space Station and/or extension of its lifetime
- Development of a permanent human presence on the moon
- Landing a human on an asteroid
- Manned mission to Mars
- Deep space exploration (either manned or unmanned)
- Other – please specify in your response to Question 8
Question 08: Who will be the biggest benefactors of the shift toward private space exploration and why? (open text response)
Question 09: Which of the following best describes your opinion of the Obama administration’s decision to terminate the Constellation program? (select one)
- The administration made exactly the right decision. Constellation faced too many obstacles to be successful.
- The administration made a good decision, but I disagreed with some elements of it or reasons for it.
- The administration made a bad decision, though I did agree that Constellation was troubled and needed a different direction.
- The administration made the wrong decision. Constellation was the correct path forward.
Question 10: In two or three sentences, briefly explain your opinion of NASA’s current priorities and future plans. (NOTE: If you answered “other” to any of the questions above, please clarify your response here.) (open text response)