This blog has noted on a number of occasions, to the consternation of hardcore space advocates, that space ranks pretty low on the list of priorities of the general public (and, thus, fairly high on the list of government programs they would be willing to cut). Another reminder of this came out earlier this month, when the Fairfax County (Virginia) Economic Development Authority released a poll ranking the top priorities for “technological breakthroughs” as perceived by the American public. “Fuel efficiency and alternative fuels” and “Medical” ranked at the top of the list, with two-thirds of the respondents selecting one or the other as their highest priority. “Space exploration” made the list, but only barely: just three percent ranked it as their highest technological priority, ahead of only “Telecommunications and media” and “Don’t know/not sure”.
The same poll was also performed in the UK at the same time, with similar results. While medical and fuel efficiency/alternative fuels flipped-flopped at the top, space exploration remained near the bottom, getting selected by only one percent of the public, tied for last with telecommunications and media.