The survey results, which included the opinions of 1,101 Americans, haven’t officially been released. However, the non-profit corporation has shown some preliminary findings that demonstrate how enthusiastic people are about the prospect of Mars.
A total of 71 percent of participants said that they believed that the U.S. will land a human on Mars within the next two decades–in 2033. In addition, the survey found that on average, people believed the U.S. government spends 2.4 percent of the federal budget on NASA after they were told the agency currently has two operational rovers on the Martian surface.
This shows, unfortunately, that Americans are overly optimistic about the space program. Currently, NASA plans to launch a human into orbit around the moon in 2021. Although the organization has a goal of sending humans to Mars by the 2030s, it’s not actually to go to the surface–it’s just to orbit around the Red Planet. This is also assuming that NASA actually keeps to schedule, which is usually also overly optimistic.
In addition, the 2013 federal budget for NASA is a mere .5 percent ($17.7 billion). In comparison, the average budget for NASA during the Apollo Program in the 1960s and early 70s was around 2.8 percent.
Yet Explore Mars, like the public, remains optimistic. “Despite difficult economic times, the American people are still inspired by space exploration and are committed to human exploration of Mars,” said Chris Carberry, Executive Director of Explore Mars in a press release. “This is a wakeup call to our leaders that Americans are still explorers.”
Even so, it will probably be quite some time before a person ever lands on Mars. It’s only recently that NASA sent Curiosity to the Red Planet to drill for samples; it could help explain the public’s recent interest and positivity about Mars exploration.