Just after NASA shared the first stunning images taken of the agency’s new, powerful James Webb Space Telescope, a new online poll asked Americans: was the nearly $ 10 billion observatory a good investment? And the resounding answer: yes.
Today, marketing and data analytics firm YouGov released an online poll of 1,000 Americans, asking them about their general opinion of NASA and whether or not various space programs have been good investments. About 70 percent of those surveyed had a positive view of NASA, and 60 percent thought the James Webb Space Telescope, or JWST, was worth it.
YouGov notes that this study was conducted between July 14 and July 18, after NASA released the first dazzling JWST images of glittering galaxies and nebulae on July 12. These images seem to have been enough to surpass any of them JWST’s previous drama. The telescope may be in space and working now, but it has been a long and harrowing journey to get to that point. Prior to the launch, JWST’s development was marked by significant delays and budget overruns. Initially, NASA and mission planners hoped to launch the telescope sometime between 2007 and 2011 for a relatively low cost of $ 1 to $ 3.5 billion. But the telescope went through a dizzying array of schedule clips and mishaps. When JWST was finally launched on Christmas Day 2021, its total lifetime cost was stood to $ 9.7 billion.
NEW: After the release of the first images from the James Webb Space Telescope, 3 out of 5 Americans say the telescope has been a good investment. A quarter (26%) are unsure, and 13% say it has been a bad investment.https: //t.co/gcL65FIjLE pic.twitter.com/AwJxbSkZVF
– YouGov America (@YouGovAmerica) July 19, 2022
To be fair, the price tag of nearly $ 10 billion for JWST is the lifetime cost for NASA, so it includes most of the development since the early 2000s, as well as the first five years of operation, according to the Planetary Society. And the Planetary Society also notes that JWST’s total costs account for 0.0095 percent of all U.S. spending between 2003 and 2026.
Of course, most The respondents probably did not think about the price tag when they looked at the intricacies of the Carina nebula that JWST captured in incredible detail. When the already iconic image was shown, people became poetic. “Astonishment in the face of incredible beauty,” said one person who responded to the YouGov survey. “I was quite overwhelmed by it,” wrote another. “It’s amazing to be able to see so many details in such a small part of the universe.”
And the first pictures are just a small teaser for what is to come. Fantastic images and revelations will only continue the longer the telescope operates in space. And the respondents to the poll said they are eager for more. “Some applauded NASA’s ongoing space exploration for its broader contribution to scientific knowledge, and others said they look forward to seeing what else the telescope reveals,” YouGov wrote in its release.
YouGov also asked respondents about other space investments, including the Hubble Space Telescope, which is currently in orbit around the Earth, the International Space Station and the space shuttle program. Everyone received generally positive reviews.