NASA launches new crew to the International Space Station

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Strong public support is widely shared across gender, generational, educational and political groups. In the past 17 years, more than 230 people from 18 countries have visited the International Space Station.

Administrator James Bridenstine says NASA is already talking with private companies about potentially taking over the space lab after 2025.

When asked to rate the importance of nine specific missions found in NASA's diverse portfolio, majorities say monitoring key parts of the Earth's climate system or monitoring asteroids and other objects that could hit Earth should be top priorities for NASA (63% and 62% respectively).

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. The complex was essentially completed with the retirement of NASA's space shuttles in 2011. Overall, 58% of US adults believe it is essential to include the use of human astronauts in the future USA space program, while 41% say astronauts are not essential.

This issue is very relevant due to the emergence of private companies, including Elon Musk's SpaceX, that are venturing out in space.

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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.

Twenty-six percent of Americans have a great deal of confidence that private companies will be able to build safe and reliable spacecraft, and 23 percent don't have too much confidence, or have no confidence at all.

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

"Handing over a rare national asset to commercial enterprises before the private sector is ready to support it could have disastrous consequences for American leadership in space and for the chances of building space-focused private enterprise", he said at the time. Only 27 percent of baby boomers are interested in space tourism, but as much as 63 percent of millennials would like to travel into space as tourists.

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