scorecardMost Americans don't know NASA's share of the federal budget - but 85% would give the space agency a big raise
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Most Americans don't know NASA's share of the federal budget - but 85% would give the space agency a big raise

Most Americans don't know NASA's share of the federal budget - but 85% would give the space agency a big raise
LifeScience1 min read
NASA's share of the US federal budget is probably a lot lower than you think.    iStock; NASA; Samantha Lee/Business Insider

  • INSIDER polled more than 1,000 people living in the US about the funding and direction of NASA.
  • Most respondents said returning to the moon should be a priority for the US space agency.
  • However, a majority think NASA's time, resources, and energy is best spent on Mars exploration.
  • About 85% of seem to think NASA's annual budget should be increased as a percentage of the US federal budget.

Can you guess what share of the US federal budget goes to NASA?

If you're not sure, you're not alone.

For roughly the past decade, NASA has received about 0.5% of all planned federal spending. In the 2018 fiscal year, that translates to roughly $20.7 billion.

But according to a recent poll by INSIDER (a Business Insider sister publication), less than two in five people can estimate the space agency's funding level within one percentage point. The poll results, which came from 1,037 US residents on SurveyMonkey Audience, suggest that a majority of Americans don't know what slice of the taxpayer-dollar pie NASA gets each year.

There was also a notable difference between the share of the budget respondents think the agency receives versus what they think it should get. Based on respondents' preferences, a vast majority would give NASA a raise - even when providing numbers they think would cut the agency's budget.

The survey also asked respondents for their opinions about NASA's space-exploration goals, including human and robotic voyages to the moon and Mars.

Here's a look at what we learned from the public opinion data, and how the future of NASA might be affected if Americans had a more direct say in the matter.

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