Survey: 58% Said There's No Way They Would Consider Taking A Commercial SpaceX Flight

Commercial space flight, wherein private citizens can purchase their own tickets to outer space, for example, to an orbital resort or a lunar shopping center, was once an element of science fiction, largely driven by the zeitgeist of the 1969 NASA Moon Landing. Since then, companies like SpaceX and Blue Origin have been bankrolled by billionaires Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos, respectively, with the goal of turning the aforementioned dream into reality (though at a pretty steep cost).

According to a Pew Research survey conducted in June 2018, about 58% of Americans said they would not to want to travel to outer space in any capacity, even just to an orbital station relatively close to Earth. And that sentiment doesn't change whether it's with NASA, SpaceX, or Blue Origin. It's important to note that the Pew Research survey mentioned earlier splits its data between demographics, showing a much stronger preference among Millennials to want to travel to space (about 63%) vs. Gen X (39%) vs. the Boomer generation (29%). One possible interpretation of their data is that people are less likely to feel physically capable of withstanding the physically brutal environment of space as they age.

That said, when surveyed, 620 participants across the United States expressed view about whether they were willing to travel into Earth's orbit while riding a SpaceX rocket such as the Falcon 9. Without specific demographic data, there's a margin of error for discrepancy. However, what we discovered is that the sentiment doesn't change too much.

It might not be SpaceX, it might just be space

Given the results of the Pew Research survey we linked earlier, it does seem like people generally aren't all that comfortable with the idea of going to space — even if the zeitgeist makes space seem like a desirable destination in the future. Granted, the whole point of SpaceX is to make commercial spaceflight both desirable and affordable, neither of which are currently applicable to any form of spaceflight. We can't blame the general public here, considering the prevalence of failed SpaceX rocket launches circulating around social media.

Among the 620 respondents surveyed, exactly 57.74%, or around 358 of them, voted to stay on solid ground if given the opportunity to take a SpaceX flight into the Earth's orbit. The survey was randomly selected, which is why it's interesting to compare it with the Pew Research survey a few years prior, which saw similar results, albeit with much broader criteria (and possibly a larger sample size, meaning it was likely even more reflective of the general population).

Say what you will about SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, who is currently entangled with a whole separate dilemma surrounding his pending albeit shaky acquisition of social media platform Twitter. Musk is evidently putting a lot of effort into making SpaceX succeed, and the company does supply plenty of equipment to NASA's critical operations. Whether or not the civilian spaceflight gamble pays off, however, ultimately depends on whether or not the company can succeed at building a foolproof rocket.