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Americans back space program




Submitted by Arthur - N1ORC

July 28, 2003, 9:37PM

Americans back space program
By WILL LESTER-AP

WASHINGTON -- Most Americans support the space shuttle despite two
accidents that claimed the lives of all astronauts aboard, but
enthusiasm for civilians on board the shuttle is declining, an
Associated Press poll found. 

Two-thirds said the shuttle should continue to fly despite the
accidents, including one early this year. A higher number, nearly
three-fourths, said they think the space program is a good investment,
according to the poll conducted for the AP by ICR/International
Communications Research of Media, Pa. 

"I think we can gain knowledge of things that could help us medically,"
said David Wines, 46, a carpenter from upstate New York. "I'm interested
in the other planets, whether there's other life forms on other
planets." 

Enthusiasm for space exploration was greater among younger adults, those
with more education and those with higher incomes. Whites were more
likely than blacks and men were more likely than women to think the
shuttle should continue to fly. 

The strong support continues even after the fiery disintegration of
Columbia in February and the grounding of the remaining shuttles during
an investigation into the cause of the accident that killed seven
astronauts. 

NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe says the agency already is addressing
issues raised by the accident. Earlier this month, he said the agency is
looking toward a return to space in six months to nine months. 

While support for the space program and the shuttle is consistently at
two-thirds or more, people are more divided on the question of sending a
human to Mars. Support for that proposal was at 49 percent, while 42
percent opposed it. Men were almost twice as likely as women to think
that sending someone to Mars is a good idea. 

The poll of 1,034 adults was taken July 11-15 and has an error margin of
plus or minus 3 percentage points.

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