Rocket blasts off for mission to ISS

Soyuz MS-09 Takes New Crew to the International Space Station (+Photo)

While human missions to Mars or the moon maintain a high-profile at NASA, and they're also part of the Trump Administration's long term goals for space exploration, public support for such missions is low. Some 65% of Americans believe that NASA's role in space exploration is essential, with 33% saying that private companies will ensure that enough progress is made in space exploration without NASA's involvement. Conducting research to increase knowledge of space is a top priority for 47 percent of Americans, but 62 percent think monitoring objects that could hit Earth is a top priority.

The rookie's late inclusion into the mission came at the expense of Jeanette Epps, who would have been the first African-American to serve on a long-term mission aboard the space station had she flown as expected.

As for NASA, after the retiring of the Space Shuttle, it launched zero manned missions from U.S soil and using US technology.

Only two companies are now building private space stations, Bigelow AeroSpace and NanoRacks.

Although the media seems infatuated with private companies like Musk's SpaceX, Americans remain traditionally confident in NASA.

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Only about 7 percent of Americans surveyed said they payed close attention to space news, hearing "a lot" about NASA and commercial space in the past year. For example, 95% of those who are most attentive to news about space have at least a fair amount of confidence that private companies will build safe and reliable rockets and spacecraft; 58% of this group has a great deal of confidence that companies will do this.

A majority of Americans think space tourism is not for them, although half of Americans believe people will routinely travel in space as tourists within the next 50 years.

The space laboratory has been orbiting Earth at about 28,000 kilometres per hour (17,000 miles per hour) since 1998.

"It will be very hard to turn ISS into a truly commercial outpost because of the global agreements that the United States is involved in", said Frank Slazer, the vice president of space systems for the Aerospace Industries Association.

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