Americans support the space industry, and Texas is leading the way

The Pew Research Center released data today from its most recent survey on the space industry and American attitudes toward it. Among the more encouraging findings? Nearly seven of 10 Americans — 69% — believe it’s important for the United States to continue as the global leader in space exploration.

The release of the Pew report today — July 20 — coincides with the anniversary of the day in 1969 when Neil Armstrong first set foot on the moon.

This data mirrors similar findings by Texas 2036. In its survey of Texas voters this February, 75% of respondents told Texas 2036 that it was important for Texas to continue its leadership in space exploration.

Given that Texas has served as the historic home of NASA and America’s human space flight program for over half a century, the slightly more favorable polling results from Texans are perhaps unsurprising.

Texas poised to continue as space industry leader

Texas took steps this legislative session to create a Texas Space Commission and Space Research & Space Economy Consortium with the passage of House Bill 3447. Lawmakers funded these items with a generous $350 million appropriation, indicating their commitment to organizing the state for success as the industry becomes increasingly driven by competition and commercial activity.

Interestingly, although the growth in the space economy in the coming years will be primarily driven by private industry, the Pew survey found that Americans still believe in the vital importance of NASA: “65% of U.S. adults say it is essential that NASA continue to be involved in space exploration.”

Texas legislators appear to have anticipated this as well in the state budget. Although one of the aims of the forthcoming Texas Space Commission is to attract and grow the private space industry, the budget appropriation for the commission continues to ensure the involvement of NASA by providing $200 million (of the $350 million allocated) for the development of a research space hub adjacent to NASA’s Space Center in Houston.

Other interesting findings from the Pew survey include an overall positive view by Americans of the safety and reliability of spacecraft built by private space companies. A majority of Americans also believe that space tourism will exist in the coming decades.

Read more about Pew’s space survey findings here.

Check out the Dallas Morning News’ editorial commemorating the 54th anniversary of the day U.S. astronauts first walked on the moon here.

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