At the American Institute for Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Space 2006 meeting, a report shows that young American adults are "largely disinterested" in the Vision for Space Exploration announced by President Bush in January of 2004.
Beginning in late 2005, Dittmar Associates, a marketing research firm based in Houston, focused on space exploration and its perception by Americans between the ages of 18 and 25 years. The results found that young Americans are generally disengaged and cynical about the human spaceflight aspects of the U.S. civil space program.
Among the findings:
- 49% of respondents are aware of the Vision for Space Exploration to some extent but detailed understanding of the program is lacking with "something about the Moon" characterizing the majority of responses.
- Interest in return to the Moon is slim, with 29% interested, 45% neutral and 23% disinterested
- Most important concerns are jobs, the war, and relationships; space ranks near the bottom of the list of personal priorities.
- Opposition to a human mission to Mars is strong, running 3:1; however the majority (52%) support more robotic missions like the Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity.
- Interest in "New Space" (commercial) human spaceflight efforts such as the X-Prize flights of SpaceShip One is increasing, relative to the results of the previous study.
These results came from a follow-up study for Space Exploration originally released in November 2004. Some of the original results included:
- Endorsement of the space program in general was very strong, with 69% of Americans voicing their support.
- Interest and excitement about the Vision for Space Exploration was strong for near-term aspects of the plan (65% of Americans responded positively) and for returning to the Moon. This was not true for plans to send humans to Mars, which is seen as involving much more risk (only 18% of Americans responded positively).
- There were large and significant differences in attitudes and enthusiasm about the space exploration program which emerged on the basis of sex, ethnic groups, age, and other variables.