Trio of astronauts headed to International Space Station

Oleg Artemyev/@OlegMKS tweeted

Sending astronauts to Mars: 18% top priority, 45% important but lower priority, 37% not too important or should not be done.

While the findings by the Pew Research Center show that an overwhelming chunk of the country appreciate the importance of space exploration - 72 percent want the United States to remain a global leader in the industry - opinions are divided on whether Mars or the moon should be a priority.

The three astronauts aboard the Russian Soyuz rocket are scheduled to arrive at the orbital space laboratory by the end of the week.

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.

In a town hall with NASA employees in May, Bridenstine expressed his belief that private commercial investment would be a key part of helping NASA reach the moon again.

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This issue is very relevant due to the emergence of private companies, including Elon Musk's SpaceX, that are venturing out in space. Only 33 percent of American adults think private companies have the ability to ensure progress and explore the space, without National Aeronautics and Space Administration's help.

The astronaut-carrying version of the Dragon includes seven seats, a bank of monitors offering the crew real-time flight data, a climate-control system for added comfort, and plenty of windows so the space travelers can gaze in awe at the stunning scenery.

Rather than dismantling the space station, the memo said, the plan was to "expand worldwide and commercial partnerships over the next seven years in order to ensure continued human access to and presence in low Earth orbit".

"The majority of private companies rely on NASA as a customer and, if not, aspire to", Dreier explains in Axios.