Space Exploration: Was space shuttle worth the $$$? SHUTTLE ATLANTIS in its final mission high above the planet. This photo from Atlantis’ final flight is provided courtesy of NASA for public use. The photo was taken through a window, looking out over a module packed with supplies and spare parts for the International Space Station. Earth is seen as a backdrop.$200 billion. That’s the total cost of the space shuttle program. NASA’s original estimates for the program were less than half that amount. All told, do you think this was a good investment?

A majority of Americans (55%) think it was, according to a new poll from Pew. Men are somewhat more likely than women to say the shuttle program was a good investment. Surprisingly, there are no differences in support by age: young adults, for example, are just as likely as seniors to say it was a good investment. However, Americans with lower levels of formal education or lower family incomes are less likely to say it was a good investment.

What are the benefits of the investment? Three of four Americans say the program encouraged interest in science and technology. About the same say the program yielded scientific advances that all Americans can use. Seven of ten Americans say it was good for national pride and a sense of patriotism.

Pew didn’t ask about the effect of the shuttle program on international cooperation. The program aided the construction and maintenance of the International Space Station, which NASA calls the “most politically complex space exploration program ever undertaken.” The principal partners are the space agencies of the U.S., Russia, Europe, Japan, and Canada.

Do you think the shuttle program was a good investment?

Would you support tax dollars for more manned space exploration?

Originally published at, an online experiment in civil dialogue on American values.

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