Author Topic: Percentage of Americans opposed to space colonization outside solar system  (Read 7249 times)

Offline Vahe231991

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I know that space colonies remain one of the most high-profile staples of space exploration-related science fiction, but have there ever been any public opinion polls over the past two decades regarding whether or not Americans oppose building multiple space colonies on the Moon, Mars, and potentially some extrasolar planets?
« Last Edit: 05/12/2023 02:19 am by Vahe231991 »

Offline spacenut

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Most people who object are ones who don't want their tax dollars to be used.  If it is billionaires like Musk and Bezos spending their money, most don't really care.  What most people don't realize is the money is not spent IN space, but on the earth providing a lot of aerospace jobs, as well as agriculture, mining and manufacturing, medicine, and electronics that goes along with colonization. 
« Last Edit: 05/11/2023 02:45 am by spacenut »

Offline chopsticks

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Most people who object are ones who don't want their tax dollars to be used.  If it is billionaires like Musk and Bezos spending their money, most don't really care.  What most people don't realize is the money is not spent IN space, but on the earth providing a lot of aerospace jobs, as well as agriculture, mining and manufacturing, medicine, and electronics that goes along with colonization.


Not sure I totally agree with that. A lot of people think that even private space companies are a waste of money (even though it's not tax dollars*).

I've heard "This money would be better spent helping problems on Earth before spending it on colonizing Mars". It's not that these people believe that dollar bills are literally going into LEO on not coming back down, but that the money spent ON space projects (as opposed to IN space) would be better spent on other things, like humanitarian efforts for example. If you actually wanted to spend money IN space, you would first need essentially a separate economy (like a nation state with people living there and consuming stuff) that operated in space.

*And it depends on how you look at the "tax dollars" thing too. This is sort of a rationale to be made that if billionaires were higher taxed (so that being a billionaire was impossible) the money spent by these billionaires on space would now be in the hands of the state, which could then invest in their own space projects as a state-run project (NASA or ESA for example). Of course the counter-argument is that state-run projects are always more inefficient.

Offline Robotbeat

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Some people are opposed to people doing things they don’t like even if it doesn’t affect them. Whether we’re talking about neighbors painting their house a different color, people practicing a religion they don’t like (or any religion at all or no religion), people having different social/sexual identities, publishing books they don’t like, etc. There’s no limit to what people might oppose.

…which is kind of a good argument for doing it in the first place, to avoid busybodies who want to control the lives of their neighbors. (And this is also a good argument for having as many different kinds of entities doing the work out there, multiple companies, multiple governments, non-profits, etc…)
« Last Edit: 05/11/2023 03:40 pm by Robotbeat »
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

To the maximum extent practicable, the Federal Government shall plan missions to accommodate the space transportation services capabilities of United States commercial providers. US law http://goo.gl/YZYNt0

Offline Kansan52

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I remember the answer of Hubert Humphrey that a dollar lost to space research does not automatically benefit other programs.

IMO, the problem isn't simply money, it is a problem of will. Multiple amounts have been spent to improve (feed) people for every amount spent for research, space or other research.

Offline Phil Stooke

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Everything in a poll like this depends on how the question is asked.  If you say 'Should America prioritize space exploration or health care?' you get one response, if you ask 'Should America ensure its space exploration capabilities do not fall behind China's?' you get another.  A simple statement about what people think about a subject is not really very useful.

Offline whitelancer64

Everything in a poll like this depends on how the question is asked.  If you say 'Should America prioritize space exploration or health care?' you get one response, if you ask 'Should America ensure its space exploration capabilities do not fall behind China's?' you get another.  A simple statement about what people think about a subject is not really very useful.

This.

Also, when polls ask if people support the US space program, there's broad approval. The US public generally likes that NASA is doing "something" in space. It's one of the few branches of US government that consistently has good approval ratings.

But if polls ask about specific projects, approval falls way down. And specific projects can be heavily tied to partisan politics.

Keep in mind, there aren't very many people like us space nerds that actually know what NASA is doing in space. 
"One bit of advice: it is important to view knowledge as sort of a semantic tree -- make sure you understand the fundamental principles, ie the trunk and big branches, before you get into the leaves/details or there is nothing for them to hang on to." - Elon Musk
"There are lies, damned lies, and launch schedules." - Larry J

Offline Vahe231991

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Everything in a poll like this depends on how the question is asked.  If you say 'Should America prioritize space exploration or health care?' you get one response, if you ask 'Should America ensure its space exploration capabilities do not fall behind China's?' you get another.  A simple statement about what people think about a subject is not really very useful.
A better question would be if majorities of people in the US but also Russia and China don't think that colonization of some parts of solar system, Mars and the Moon excluded, is beyond mankind's technology capacity.

Offline whitelancer64

Everything in a poll like this depends on how the question is asked.  If you say 'Should America prioritize space exploration or health care?' you get one response, if you ask 'Should America ensure its space exploration capabilities do not fall behind China's?' you get another.  A simple statement about what people think about a subject is not really very useful.
A better question would be if majorities of people in the US but also Russia and China don't think that colonization of some parts of solar system, Mars and the Moon excluded, is beyond mankind's technology capacity.

Can you list five (or more) examples of questions you would like to see in this poll?

Be specific, please.
"One bit of advice: it is important to view knowledge as sort of a semantic tree -- make sure you understand the fundamental principles, ie the trunk and big branches, before you get into the leaves/details or there is nothing for them to hang on to." - Elon Musk
"There are lies, damned lies, and launch schedules." - Larry J

Offline Robotbeat

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Everything in a poll like this depends on how the question is asked.  If you say 'Should America prioritize space exploration or health care?' you get one response, if you ask 'Should America ensure its space exploration capabilities do not fall behind China's?' you get another.  A simple statement about what people think about a subject is not really very useful.
A better question would be if majorities of people in the US but also Russia and China don't think that colonization of some parts of solar system, Mars and the Moon excluded, is beyond mankind's technology capacity.
The general public does not have the skills to even competently attempt to answer this question.

EDIT: Even subject matter experts can get this wrong if they’re not at the forefront of all these various technology development areas.
« Last Edit: 05/11/2023 07:31 pm by Robotbeat »
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

To the maximum extent practicable, the Federal Government shall plan missions to accommodate the space transportation services capabilities of United States commercial providers. US law http://goo.gl/YZYNt0

Offline spacenut

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In my extended family, I have everything from high school drop outs to Phd's.  The ones with the least education think the tax money could be spent better on other things.  Same with some of the Phd's.  The ones in the middle like what people are doing in space, especially if they spend their own money like Musk and Bezos.  Surprisingly the most educated Phd's on the left want to explore space but want more government control over what goes on.  This is just my family. 
« Last Edit: 05/11/2023 06:41 pm by spacenut »

Offline Vahe231991

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Everything in a poll like this depends on how the question is asked.  If you say 'Should America prioritize space exploration or health care?' you get one response, if you ask 'Should America ensure its space exploration capabilities do not fall behind China's?' you get another.  A simple statement about what people think about a subject is not really very useful.
A better question would be if majorities of people in the US but also Russia and China don't think that colonization of some parts of solar system, Mars and the Moon excluded, is beyond mankind's technology capacity.
Can you list five (or more) examples of questions you would like to see in this poll?

Be specific, please.
Here are five examples of questions I'd like to see in this poll:
1. Is colonization of extrasolar planets technologically feasible?
2. Are people in the China National Space Administration pessimistic about space colonization happening in their lifetimes because they see colonization of other parts of the Milky Way as a drain on the CNSA's budget?
3. Are Americans wary of the notion of space colonization on the grounds that people who dream of colonizing extrasolar planets might be caught by surprise by hitherto-unknown extraterrestrial beings if they set foot on planets outside the solar system?
4. Are some people in SpaceX skeptical of Elon Musk's desire for colonization of the Moon or Mars via Starship?
5. Should NASA restrict the scope of space colonization to the Moons or Mars in future budgets?

Offline whitelancer64

Everything in a poll like this depends on how the question is asked.  If you say 'Should America prioritize space exploration or health care?' you get one response, if you ask 'Should America ensure its space exploration capabilities do not fall behind China's?' you get another.  A simple statement about what people think about a subject is not really very useful.
A better question would be if majorities of people in the US but also Russia and China don't think that colonization of some parts of solar system, Mars and the Moon excluded, is beyond mankind's technology capacity.
Can you list five (or more) examples of questions you would like to see in this poll?

Be specific, please.
Here are five examples of questions I'd like to see in this poll:
1. Is colonization of extrasolar planets technologically feasible?
2. Are people in the China National Space Administration pessimistic about space colonization happening in their lifetimes because they see colonization of other parts of the Milky Way as a drain on the CNSA's budget?
3. Are Americans wary of the notion of space colonization on the grounds that people who dream of colonizing extrasolar planets might be caught by surprise by hitherto-unknown extraterrestrial beings if they set foot on planets outside the solar system?
4. Are some people in SpaceX skeptical of Elon Musk's desire for colonization of the Moon or Mars via Starship?
5. Should NASA restrict the scope of space colonization to the Moons or Mars in future budgets?


Your questions are highly esoteric, and require an awful lot of speculation or specific knowledge to answer. Try to get to simple "yes" "no" and "maybe" questions.


1. Is colonization of extrasolar planets technologically feasible?

1. The correct answer to that is Yes, although it would be tremendously expensive to send people to other solar systems.

2. Are people in the China National Space Administration pessimistic about space colonization happening in their lifetimes because they see colonization of other parts of the Milky Way as a drain on the CNSA's budget?

2. I highly doubt that CNSA has a budget for colonization, regardless of location.
No space agency is seriously thinking of or has a budget for sending people outside of our solar system.

3. Are Americans wary of the notion of space colonization on the grounds that people who dream of colonizing extrasolar planets might be caught by surprise by hitherto-unknown extraterrestrial beings if they set foot on planets outside the solar system?

3. This is something that could happen hundreds of years from now. If we went to another planet, we would be studying it for decades before hand, and there would be no such surprises.

4. Are some people in SpaceX skeptical of Elon Musk's desire for colonization of the Moon or Mars via Starship?

4. They shouldn't be. SpaceX was founded on the idea of sending something to Mars, and the cargo capacity required to establish a colony on Mars is the primary reason that Starship exists.

5. Should NASA restrict the scope of space colonization to the Moons or Mars in future budgets?

5. NASA does not have any budget for colonization, so that is a moot question.
« Last Edit: 05/11/2023 09:32 pm by whitelancer64 »
"One bit of advice: it is important to view knowledge as sort of a semantic tree -- make sure you understand the fundamental principles, ie the trunk and big branches, before you get into the leaves/details or there is nothing for them to hang on to." - Elon Musk
"There are lies, damned lies, and launch schedules." - Larry J

Offline spacenut

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NASA will not get budget money for Mars until SpaceX gets there first.  Then congress will want NASA to be involved for government oversight.  I don't think the majority in congress today believes SpaceX will get to Mars in their lifetimes and aren't interested.  Their only interest is spending money in their districts or states. 

Offline Greg Hullender

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You need to define the terms better. I'm not sure I'm in favor of "unfettered" space colonization, and I'd love to see colonies on the moon, Mars, the atmosphere of Venus, etc.

But how would I feel about space colonization that didn't care about the health and safety of workers? Or their children? I don't think I'd support that.

So I'd say some sort of regulation is going to be necessary. The challenge is to make sure it's the right kind of regulation.

Offline Vahe231991

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You need to define the terms better. I'm not sure I'm in favor of "unfettered" space colonization, and I'd love to see colonies on the moon, Mars, the atmosphere of Venus, etc.

But how would I feel about space colonization that didn't care about the health and safety of workers? Or their children? I don't think I'd support that.

So I'd say some sort of regulation is going to be necessary. The challenge is to make sure it's the right kind of regulation.
I've changed the title of this thread because when I mentioned "unfettered" space colonization, I meant to weigh in on whether there are any polls suggesting that a majority of Americans are opposed to the construction of space colonies outside the solar system as well as the vicinity of the gas giants.

Offline whitelancer64

You need to define the terms better. I'm not sure I'm in favor of "unfettered" space colonization, and I'd love to see colonies on the moon, Mars, the atmosphere of Venus, etc.

But how would I feel about space colonization that didn't care about the health and safety of workers? Or their children? I don't think I'd support that.

So I'd say some sort of regulation is going to be necessary. The challenge is to make sure it's the right kind of regulation.
I've changed the title of this thread because when I mentioned "unfettered" space colonization, I meant to weigh in on whether there are any polls suggesting that a majority of Americans are opposed to the construction of space colonies outside the solar system as well as the vicinity of the gas giants.

Why would a member of the general public hold strong opinions in favor of or against something that will not happen for hundreds of years? It's not something that will affect most people either way.
"One bit of advice: it is important to view knowledge as sort of a semantic tree -- make sure you understand the fundamental principles, ie the trunk and big branches, before you get into the leaves/details or there is nothing for them to hang on to." - Elon Musk
"There are lies, damned lies, and launch schedules." - Larry J

Offline spacenut

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If and when Musk gets Starship/Superheavy operational, Musk wants to begin Mars colonization in his lifetime.  That is the 2030's, not hundreds of years.  He said he wanted 1 million people living on Mars by 2050.  There probably won't be that many, but there may be hundreds, mining, working, prospecting, setting up habitats and greenhouses, metal smelting equipment, excavation equipment.  Starship will make it not impossible. 

Offline whitelancer64

If and when Musk gets Starship/Superheavy operational, Musk wants to begin Mars colonization in his lifetime.  That is the 2030's, not hundreds of years.  He said he wanted 1 million people living on Mars by 2050.  There probably won't be that many, but there may be hundreds, mining, working, prospecting, setting up habitats and greenhouses, metal smelting equipment, excavation equipment.  Starship will make it not impossible.

Vahe is talking about colonizing exoplanets. Other star systems.
"One bit of advice: it is important to view knowledge as sort of a semantic tree -- make sure you understand the fundamental principles, ie the trunk and big branches, before you get into the leaves/details or there is nothing for them to hang on to." - Elon Musk
"There are lies, damned lies, and launch schedules." - Larry J

Offline Robotbeat

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If Mars settlement actually works in Musk’s lifetime (not just Antarctica scale, but say 100,000 people there by 2070), it’s not impossible that extrasolar settlement could start being prepared for by the late 21st Century. Sending large, >100 ton payloads (the real minimum for humans without Singularity Santa) to even the nearest other Star system will take about 50 years, so I don’t think it can be actually settled by the end of this century (we’d need megastructures built for the task starting in the next decade or two to get the first people there before 2100, and I think it’d take another 50 years to build up a settlement to the scale we might do at Mars within 50 years from now), but perhaps not “hundreds of years,” either, if we do everything right maybe 120-150 years from now. (Or we could appeal to the “Singularity Santa” and say that Petawatt lasers pushing AGI-uploaded-human robots at near the speed of light can “settle” the nearest Star systems within a few years of AGI developing… but setting that aside…)

Anyway, whitelancer64 is right. There is no space colonization budget at NASA. NASA sometimes looks at the question in studies and reports, but this is a secondary thing and there is no budget for it even for in our own solar system. The only part of NASA that funds really any kind of interstellar propulsion or concept is NIAC, and they’re not looking at interstellar settlement.
« Last Edit: 05/15/2023 04:46 pm by Robotbeat »
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

To the maximum extent practicable, the Federal Government shall plan missions to accommodate the space transportation services capabilities of United States commercial providers. US law http://goo.gl/YZYNt0

 

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