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Poll Reveals Americans Don't Believe US Leads in Space Exploration

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Moose

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Strangely worded/constructed poll, to. which Sputnik added an inflammatory headline For example, the question from which the headline comes is:
SP2. Which of these statements best describes your opinion about the United States today?

The U.S. is the leading nation in space exploration 17
The U.S. is one of several leading nations in space exploration 64
The U.S. is not a leading nation in space exploration 17
DON’T KNOW 1
SKIP/REFUSED 1
That's hardly a "the US sucks in space!" result. It's not even a "the US is not leading in Space" result because 81% gave answers that have the US as sole the leader or one leader among "several" others.
 

Levsha

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If you have to rely on your former #1 enemy to get your own astronauts into orbit, you're definitely *not* leading in space exploration.
That situation is surely going to change soon, Dragon 2, CST 100, Orion, etc?
 

Hobbes

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If you have to rely on your former #1 enemy to get your own astronauts into orbit, you're definitely *not* leading in space exploration.
Human launches are only a small part of space exploration. If you launch more scientific missions than the rest of the world combined, you most definitely are a leader in space exploration.
 

sferrin

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If you have to rely on your former #1 enemy to get your own astronauts into orbit, you're definitely *not* leading in space exploration.
Human launches are only a small part of space exploration. If you launch more scientific missions than the rest of the world combined, you most definitely are a leader in space exploration.
If you're talking historically, it's not even close by any measure. Apollo, Space Shuttle, Viking, Pioneer, Voyager, Galileo, Hubble, Cassini, New Horizons, 4 rovers on Mars (a 5th getting ready), LRO, MRO, Juno, X-37 and coming up we have SLS, Blue Origin, SpaceX, (in addition to Northrop Grumman and ULA). Two manned space capsules, another space plane (Sierra Nevada), SpaceX Starship, Bigelow's space station modules. And on, and on. Right NOW though it looks bad having to bum rides off former enemy (who isn't a friend by any stretch), and use their rocket engines.
 

Foo Fighter

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Speaking personally, the loss of the shuttle program and much of its hardware was a low point. They are only as good as their last mission and the Chinese have landed on the dark side of the moon. Where have NASA landed lately?
 

Foo Fighter

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Considering how far NASA went, they have definitely been on the quiet side. Mars has been done how many times now? Even the Indians apparently have a moon lander project as have others with the Chinese actually getting there. With all the kudos and achievements of NASA they have yet to replace their high vis projects with reliance on the Russian launch facilities, something that should not have been allowed to happen.
 

Hobbes

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Astronomy flagships: Hubble still operational, JWST nearing completion, WFIRST next.
Outer planet missions: Juno, New Horizons. Dragonfly lander for Titan in the works. Lucy and Psyche. Europa Clipper. InSight, Mars 2020. Nobody else has gone beyond Mars.

Plenty of missions in the works.
 

sferrin

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Speaking personally, the loss of the shuttle program and much of its hardware was a low point. They are only as good as their last mission and the Chinese have landed on the dark side of the moon. Where have NASA landed lately?
They're driving a 2,000lb nuclear powered car on Mars. Does that count?
 

martinbayer

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If you have to rely on your former #1 enemy to get your own astronauts into orbit, you're definitely *not* leading in space exploration.
That situation is surely going to change soon, Dragon 2, CST 100, Orion, etc?
It very well may (and I honestly, truly yearn it will) indeed change in the very near future, but I understand that the poll concerned the situation as it stands *right now* (i.e. current reality, not hopeful expectation or wishful thinking). And one thing I learned very soon early on in engineering studies (as opposed to business studies, which perhaps not too coincientally are abbreviated as BS) is that you can *never* rely that *anything* at all "is surely going to change soon" the way you want or hope it to do...
 
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martinbayer

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If you have to rely on your former #1 enemy to get your own astronauts into orbit, you're definitely *not* leading in space exploration.
Human launches are only a small part of space exploration. If you launch more scientific missions than the rest of the world combined, you most definitely are a leader in space exploration.
This is probably one of those fundamentally intractable differences of opinion, but to me personally *human* space exploration (i.e. physically "being there" as a sentient being) is the absolute crown jewel of space exploration. I am completely convinced that one single astronaut is able to do more valuable scientific work in one single eight hour working day on the Earth's Moon than a lunar rover could do in at least two weeks of around the clock activities, and taking communication delays and the resulting snail's pace of current Mars rovers into account, I would extremely conservatively estimate the ratio to be less than one astronaut working day versus one 24/7 month of rover utilization (and that's probably a very low ball estimate, looking at the utterly unimpressive accumulated surface speeds of all Mars rovers so far). In time scales, it's probably like evaluating a planetray surface panorama in one fell swoop versus trying to view it almost pixel by pixel though a borescope.
 
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martinbayer

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If you have to rely on your former #1 enemy to get your own astronauts into orbit, you're definitely *not* leading in space exploration.
Human launches are only a small part of space exploration. If you launch more scientific missions than the rest of the world combined, you most definitely are a leader in space exploration.
If you're talking historically, it's not even close by any measure. Apollo, Space Shuttle, Viking, Pioneer, Voyager, Galileo, Hubble, Cassini, New Horizons, 4 rovers on Mars (a 5th getting ready), LRO, MRO, Juno, X-37 and coming up we have SLS, Blue Origin, SpaceX, (in addition to Northrop Grumman and ULA). Two manned space capsules, another space plane (Sierra Nevada), SpaceX Starship, Bigelow's space station modules. And on, and on. Right NOW though it looks bad having to bum rides off former enemy (who isn't a friend by any stretch), and use their rocket engines.
Historically speaking yes, but in the present (which those polls were targeting) you're always only as good as your last success or failure vs. those of your competitors, especially if you're currently riding on their coattails in terms of having to hitch rides for your astronauts. Imagine a Soviet Lend/Lease program for the USA in WWII.
 
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martinbayer

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If you have to rely on your former #1 enemy to get your own astronauts into orbit, you're definitely *not* leading in space exploration.
Human launches are only a small part of space exploration. If you launch more scientific missions than the rest of the world combined, you most definitely are a leader in space exploration.
You have to take the scientific return of results per mission into account. I contend that human missions are *immensely* more fruitful per launch and duration than robotic ones, because of the presence of human intelligence and associated real time analysis, adaptation, and agility in situ.
 
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sferrin

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If you have to rely on your former #1 enemy to get your own astronauts into orbit, you're definitely *not* leading in space exploration.
Human launches are only a small part of space exploration. If you launch more scientific missions than the rest of the world combined, you most definitely are a leader in space exploration.
If you're talking historically, it's not even close by any measure. Apollo, Space Shuttle, Viking, Pioneer, Voyager, Galileo, Hubble, Cassini, New Horizons, 4 rovers on Mars (a 5th getting ready), LRO, MRO, Juno, X-37 and coming up we have SLS, Blue Origin, SpaceX, (in addition to Northrop Grumman and ULA). Two manned space capsules, another space plane (Sierra Nevada), SpaceX Starship, Bigelow's space station modules. And on, and on. Right NOW though it looks bad having to bum rides off former enemy (who isn't a friend by any stretch), and use their rocket engines.
Historically speaking yes, but in the present (which those polls were targeting) you're always only as good as your last success or failure vs. those of your competitors, especially if you're currently riding on their coattails.

Well CURRENTLY the US is landing boosters on ships at see and reusing them, driving two rovers on Mars (one of them as big as a car and nuclear powered), operating a probe around Jupiter, another headed to an encounter outside Pluto's orbit, orbiters around both the Moon and Mars, AND on the verge of flying THREE manned capsules. And China is doing what? Russia is doing what?
 

martinbayer

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If you have to rely on your former #1 enemy to get your own astronauts into orbit, you're definitely *not* leading in space exploration.
Human launches are only a small part of space exploration. If you launch more scientific missions than the rest of the world combined, you most definitely are a leader in space exploration.
If you're talking historically, it's not even close by any measure. Apollo, Space Shuttle, Viking, Pioneer, Voyager, Galileo, Hubble, Cassini, New Horizons, 4 rovers on Mars (a 5th getting ready), LRO, MRO, Juno, X-37 and coming up we have SLS, Blue Origin, SpaceX, (in addition to Northrop Grumman and ULA). Two manned space capsules, another space plane (Sierra Nevada), SpaceX Starship, Bigelow's space station modules. And on, and on. Right NOW though it looks bad having to bum rides off former enemy (who isn't a friend by any stretch), and use their rocket engines.
Historically speaking yes, but in the present (which those polls were targeting) you're always only as good as your last success or failure vs. those of your competitors, especially if you're currently riding on their coattails.

Well CURRENTLY the US is landing boosters on ships at see and reusing them, driving two rovers on Mars (one of them as big as a car and nuclear powered), operating a probe around Jupiter, another headed to an encounter outside Pluto's orbit, orbiters around both the Moon and Mars, AND on the verge of flying THREE manned capsules. And China is doing what? Russia is doing what?
Landing reusable boosters (although it's a definite advance for space *transportation*, an absolutely worthy goal) does not have any direct correlation to space exploration, and neither does being "*on the verge of* flying THREE manned capsules" as opposed to actually have flown them safely to orbit and back with crew on board. Rovers'n orbiters'n probes fer sure're nice, but *China* landed on the far side of the Moon, and frankly I don't really care even minimally to anally compile a list of all the other uncrewed exploration missions anybody else around this little globe of ours is busy trying to accomplish these days. Once again, to me *human* space exploration is what really counts and dominates for the reasons outlined above. That's what *true* leadership means. Step up, USA.
 
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Hobbes

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This is probably one of those fundamentally intractable differences of opinion, but to me personally *human* space exploration (i.e. physically "being there" as a sentient being) is the absolute crown jewel of space exploration.
OK then, let's look at human space exploration. The US still runs the largest human spaceflight program in the world. And they've decided to replace government-owned launch services with commercial ones, funding the next big leap in capability. A gap in human launch capability is not a big deal.

Projects take years to yield results, and a "we only care about this quarter's results" mindset is as detrimental here as it is in business.

Even if you were to judge the US space program by "its last success or failure" you have a string of successes going back to the Columbia disaster, more than 10 years ago.
 

sferrin

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Rovers'n orbiters'n probes fer sure're nice, but *China* landed on the far side of the Moon,
Wait, so you think China putting a little toy on the far side of the moon is more of an accomplishment than a 2000lb, nuclear powered, rover on Mars? Or do you think China landed PEOPLE on the moon?
 

martinbayer

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This is probably one of those fundamentally intractable differences of opinion, but to me personally *human* space exploration (i.e. physically "being there" as a sentient being) is the absolute crown jewel of space exploration.
OK then, let's look at human space exploration. The US still runs the largest human spaceflight program in the world. And they've decided to replace government-owned launch services with commercial ones, funding the next big leap in capability. A gap in human launch capability is not a big deal.

Projects take years to yield results, and a "we only care about this quarter's results" mindset is as detrimental here as it is in business.

Even if you were to judge the US space program by "its last success or failure" you have a string of successes going back to the Columbia disaster, more than 10 years ago.
Once again, even if the US "still runs the largest human spaceflight program in the world", it currently does so having to rely on someone else's crew space transportation capabilities. In my view, in the bigger picture though there has actually been an absolutely breathtaking amount of stagnation. I'm a pessimist by nature, but after Apollo even I expected for the longest time that humans would have landed on Mars a few years ago at worst. Yet here we are, half a century later, still just endlessly going around the Earth in circles. At its very core, exploration is about pushing outwards and expanding the envelope, and that hasn't happened in human space exploration for decades. It's not just a gap in human launch capability, it's *where* those humans are going.
 
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martinbayer

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Rovers'n orbiters'n probes fer sure're nice, but *China* landed on the far side of the Moon,
Wait, so you think China putting a little toy on the far side of the moon is more of an accomplishment than a 2000lb, nuclear powered, rover on Mars? Or do you think China landed PEOPLE on the moon?
I merely recognize that China accomplished a specific *first* in uncrewed space exploration in terms of a particular destination that adds some communication challenges, but as I already said above, I'm certainly not going to quibble about how comparatively "awesome" operating lifeless things that at best go about 0.1 mph at any given destination is. For explicit clarification, in comparison to the human exploration systems of the Apollo era, to me *all* uncrewed rovers are "little toys", to use your characterization, even if they weigh a ton and use a radioisotope power system. Note by the way that the Viking Mars landers already used those in the mid-Seventies as well, so that's not really a first either...
 
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sferrin

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Rovers'n orbiters'n probes fer sure're nice, but *China* landed on the far side of the Moon,
Wait, so you think China putting a little toy on the far side of the moon is more of an accomplishment than a 2000lb, nuclear powered, rover on Mars? Or do you think China landed PEOPLE on the moon?
I merely recognize that China accomplished a specific *first* in uncrewed space exploration in terms of a particular destination that adds some communication challenges, but as I already said above, I'm certainly not going to quibble about how comparatively "awesome" operating lifeless things that at best go about 0.1 mph at any given destination is. For explicit clarification, in comparison to the human exploration systems of the Apollo era, to me *all* uncrewed rovers are "little toys", to use your characterization, even if they weigh a ton and use a radioisotope power system. Note by the way that the Viking Mars landers already used those in the mid-Seventies as well, so that's not really a first either...

Okay, so what is your point here?
 

martinbayer

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My point is that in my view human space exploration, i.e. not just putting humans in the loop, but on location, represents a quantum leap in capability vs. any robotic/automated system, advances in AI to date not withstanding, and that as a consequence I concur with the majority of Americans who don't believe the US leads in space exploration because they haven't seen any of their fellow country(wo)men break any spectacular new ground in space over the last several decades (you know, the topic that started this whole discussion).
 

sferrin

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AI to date not withstanding, and that as a consequence I concur with the majority of Americans who don't believe the US leads in space exploration because they haven't seen any of their fellow country(wo)men break any spectacular new ground in space over the last several decades (you know, the topic that started this whole discussion).
Who has done more? You hold up China landing a tiny rover on the dark side of the moon as a major breakthrough but we had actual people DRIVING A CAR ON THE MOON almost half a century ago. A pause in the ability to put a man in space hardly negates the US accomplishments there. Joe Six pack could be forgiven for not being able to see beyond what CNN tells them. You, on the other hand, really ought to know better.

My God, China is burying us.

616550
 

DrRansom

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The survey reflects perceived momentum about the Space Programs. The US has no momentum for space in the future (a natural response by an aging society), so the public reflects that with pessimism about the current standing. By any objective measure, the US is by far and away the leading space program in the world. But the energy just isn't there.

The public only cares about boots on the ground and NASA isn't producing any.
 

bobbymike

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AI to date not withstanding, and that as a consequence I concur with the majority of Americans who don't believe the US leads in space exploration because they haven't seen any of their fellow country(wo)men break any spectacular new ground in space over the last several decades (you know, the topic that started this whole discussion).
Who has done more? You hold up China landing a tiny rover on the dark side of the moon as a major breakthrough but we had actual people DRIVING A CAR ON THE MOON almost half a century ago. A pause in the ability to put a man in space hardly negates the US accomplishments there. Joe Six pack could be forgiven for not being able to see beyond what CNN tells them. You, on the other hand, really ought to know better.

My God, China is burying us.

View attachment 616550
And we are completely limiting ourselves. The restrictions are internal. Given the political will (and cash of course) the US would have been to Mars and beyond by now. The political class gave up due to their shortsighted next election vote buying.

We also could have global anti missile orbital laser battle stations but I digress ;)
 
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