As the Soyuz spacecraft carrying a
Russian crew and the first space tourist docked at the International Space
Station, students revealed their own perspectives about living and working in
space in the first annual Space Day Student Survey.
Announced today at the
Opening Ceremony for Space Day 2001 at the Smithsonian’s National Air and
Space Museum, the Space Day Student Survey offers some interesting insights
into the attitudes and priorities of this century’s next space pioneers.

Conducted in collaboration with USA TODAY Education, the survey reveals
students’ views and opinions about various aspects of space including career
preferences, priorities for study and exploration, and even the existence of
other life forms.
The questions were designed to introduce students to some
of the issues they might confront as space travelers or scientists.

Some of the survey findings echo the importance of the educational mission
of Space Day to advance math, science and technology education.
For example,
38% of the student respondents indicated that they want to travel into space
as scientists as opposed to tourists (19%), pilots (21%) or future colonists
of another planet (22%).

Of interest to families, 80% of students reported that they would miss
their families most if living aboard the International Space Station.
choices included television, friends and the Internet.

Some other findings from the survey include:

* 46% of students polled indicated that our “next big project” in space
should be exploring outside our solar system.

* 57% of students believe we will discover other lifeforms by traveling
to find them. Only 8% concluded that other lifeforms do not exist.

* When offered the chance to be the first human on Mars without the
possibility of returning to Earth, only 16% said they would accept the
assignment. However, more than one-third of respondents said they
would only go when a return trip was available and 32% would start
working on a safe way to return instead.

* 50% of students indicated that they would choose a computer with access
to the Internet over a telephone, CD player or video game as their one
“luxury” item aboard the International Space Station.

Over 3,000 students completed the survey over a three-week period from
April 9 to April 27 at
The average age of the
respondents was 11.
Slightly more girls than boys participated.

Space Day is the annual celebration of the achievements, benefits and
opportunities of space exploration. It is dedicated to the advancement of
science, math and technology education, and aims to inspire young people to
realize the vision of space pioneers.

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