Washington (CNN) - Half of all Americans say that the end of the space shuttle program is bad for the country, according to a new national survey released as the last shuttle mission came to a close.
And a CNN/ORC International Poll also indicates that most of the public wants to U.S. to develop a new spacecraft that will send astronauts into space, but a majority say they would prefer that private enterprise rather than a government program achieve that goal.
Full results (pdf).
The survey's release came just a few hours after the shuttle Atlantis glided back to Earth early Thursday - capping a 30-year program that saw hundreds of astronauts go into space. The landing at 5:57 a.m. ET went off without a hitch at Florida's Kennedy Space Center.
Half of those questioned in the poll say the end of the space shuttle program will be bad for the country, with 16 percent saying it will be good, and one-third saying it will have no effect. Three-quarters say the U.S. should develop a replacement spacecraft that will be capable of sending astronauts back into space.
"Men are more likely than women to think that the U.S. should develop a new spacecraft," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "Eight in ten men favor replacing the shuttle, compared to roughly two-thirds of women. But there is little partisan divide on this topic - more than seven out of ten Democrats, Independents and Republicans want to see the U.S. develop a new spacecraft."
Only 38 percent say that the country should rely on government to run manned space missions in the future; with 54 percent saying they would prefer that private companies handle spaceflight in the years to come.
The public is confident that this will eventually happen: Nearly nine in ten say the U.S. will achieve that goal.
But the major motivation that spurred the U.S. to develop a space program in the 1960s - competition with Russia and other countries - is no longer there. In 1961, 51 percent of the American public said that it was very important for the U.S. to be ahead of Russia and other countries in space exploration. Now only 38 percent feel that way.
The poll was conducted for CNN by ORC International on July 18-20, with 1,009 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.
– CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser contributed to this story.
@ Democrat Class Warfare & Race Baiting – Destroying the economy, destroying the country
It is a NATIONAL DISGRACE to have the shuttle program end before its replacement is up and running. It is another indicator of the decline of this country. The fact that we are now dependent on RUSSIA for the transport of our people to the space station is a NATIONAL DISGRACE. This country and its people benefit 1,000 fold for every dollar it spends on the space program. Thank you President Obama for further damaging this country. Any president that would see thousands of our best engineers tossed out of jobs is also a NATIONAL DISGRACE.
You know I agree its a national disgrace we did not have a replacement ready to go, but who made the decisions to cut NASA's budget when it was the best time to begin developing a replacement? Your boys did it. The GOp began paring NASA's budget back after Gingrich took over the House, and the funding needed to develop a new vehicle was never forthcoming, no matter how NASA restructured itself. To rely on Russia is an embarrassment, but for you to sit there and make your obligatory shots without admitting that your bunch bear at least equal responsibility in this iis ndicative that you have ideological blinkers on. If it were McCain in the office, you would be saying it was a great savings to the nation, and why we don't need the engineers at NASA. You would probably lump them in with postal workers.
Democrat Class Warfare: You and those like you that will blame this President for making tough but necessary cuts in a crash and burn economy that he inherited and is doing his best to repair are the NATIONAL DISGRACE. You are thesame one that cheered when the United States did NOT get the bid for the Olympics, and you cheered because Obama was making the pitch and you rejoiced in his failure; you are the same one that jeered when he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, you claimed that he was unworthy of it even though it should've been an honor for our country.
So save all the NATIONAL DISGRACE crap as you demonstrate via your posts that you have NO patriotism in you but only plenty of hate and resentment for your President, you wish for him to fail and couldn't care less if the country failed with him.
The main benefit of space travel, is to find a place to move to, when humans finally complete the destruction of this planet, which isn't all that far into the future.
Since that isn't really what we are working on, then most of what we are doing now, is pointless.