Thursday 30 June 2022 10:27 AM Ex-NASA astronaut Scott Kelly insists the public has not lost interest in space trends now

Thursday 30 June 2022 10:27 AM Ex-NASA astronaut Scott Kelly insists the public has not lost interest in space trends now
Thursday 30 June 2022 10:27 AM Ex-NASA astronaut Scott Kelly insists the public has not lost interest in space trends now

Thursday 30 June 2022 10:27 AM Ex-NASA astronaut Scott Kelly insists the public has not lost interest in space trends now

Retired NASA astronaut Scott Kelly insists the public has not lost interest in space — despite a bombshell new report pointing to widespread apathy among young people.

The 58-year-old American naval aviator, who spent a year on the International Space Station from 2015 to 2016, said the rise of space tourism fuelled by billionaires Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos and Sir Richard Branson was sparking public interest once again.

He spoke out after a report found that a lack of awareness was driving fear among Generation Z, with those born between 1997 and 2012 more likely to associate space with aliens and Star Wars than exploration or satellite communications.

Just one in three adults of all ages are 'excited' about space, the survey of 20,000 people across 11 countries worldwide found, while one in five are 'nervous' and one in nine 'terrified'.

A total of 97 per cent of respondents said they saw the cosmos as a threat, citing space junk and climate change as their main concerns. 

The report has been published by Inmarsat, Britain's largest satellite group, which said the findings were a 'wake-up call' for the space industry.

Bullish: Retired NASA astronaut Scott Kelly insists the public has not lost interest in space — despite a bombshell new report pointing to widespread apathy among young people

Bullish: Retired NASA astronaut Scott Kelly insists the public has not lost interest in space — despite a bombshell new report pointing to widespread apathy among young people

He spoke out after a report found that a lack of awareness was driving fear among Generation Z, with those born between 1997 and 2012 more likely to associate space with aliens and Star Wars than exploration or satellite communications

He spoke out after a report found that a lack of awareness was driving fear among Generation Z, with those born between 1997 and 2012 more likely to associate space with aliens and Star Wars than exploration or satellite communications

Just one in three adults of all ages are 'excited' about space, the survey of 20,000 people across 11 countries worldwide found, while one in five are 'nervous' and one in nine 'terrified'. This graphic shows what each age group associates the most with space

Just one in three adults of all ages are 'excited' about space, the survey of 20,000 people across 11 countries worldwide found, while one in five are 'nervous' and one in nine 'terrified'. This graphic shows what each age group associates the most with space

KEY FINDINGS INTO HOW THE PUBLIC VIEWS SPACE 

The Inmarsat report, titled 'What on Earth is the value of space', involved surveying 20,000 people in 11 countries.

Here are some of the key findings:

Only a quarter of the public (23 per cent) feel space exploration is 'important' Almost half (46 per cent) consider satellites when thinking of space A total of 37 per cent think of expeditions to the moon and Mars Twenty one per cent think of aliens, while almost 1 in 10 think of Star Wars Only a third of people feel 'excited' about space (34 per cent) Eighteen per cent feel nervous, while just 38 per cent wish they knew more about space A quarter (24 per cent) of people feel 'overwhelmed' by the cosmos Gen-Z are twice as likely to associate space with aliens, Star Wars and billionaires like Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos than older generations A total of 97 per cent of the global population surveyed feel space is a threat One in 9 people said they were 'terrified' of what could happen in space – with space junk and collisions in orbit (47 per cent), pollution (39 per cent), and damaging the Earth’s atmosphere (35 per cent) seen as the top threats

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Kelly, a veteran of four spaceflights and the face of the 'What on Earth is the value of space' survey, told MailOnline the public had 'absolutely not' fallen out of love with space, despite the findings.

'I think they're extremely interested in it. I think the activities of commercial space companies like SpaceX, Blue Origin, Virgin Orbit and Virgin Galactic really has gripped people's attention,' he said.

'There is just a lot going on in the world at the moment.' 

He also dismissed the notion that the allure of space had been lost because of the rise in wealthy businessman blasting off on rockets built by billionaires Musk, Bezos and Branson.

'I think it's a great thing, personally,' Kelly said of the rise in space tourism and the commercialisation of low-Earth orbit.

'It's time for private investment in space — governments have been doing it for 70 years now. It's time for the entrepreneurs of this world to step up.'

When asked whether space exploration was important, Kelly said: 'First of all, we are explorers. 

'It is that exploration DNA that drove us out of the caves, over the mountains and across the sea, and eventually into space. 

'Long-term survival of a species depends on its ability to grow and advance. To do that, you can't be afraid to venture out into the unknown.'

In response to people being 'terrified' of space, Kelly cited another recent survey that found many young people today aspire to be social media influencers.

'It's probably all of them who are afraid!' he joked.

'But no, spaceflight is risky. I know that because I lost two friends on Columbia [the space shuttle disaster in 2003].

'That being said, you have to take risks.'

He added: 'Space exploration is the hardest thing we do. 

'The extremes of the environment and the technology we need to survive and thrive, is the technology that also improves our lives here on Earth. 

'Areas like computing power, satellite communication, GPS technology and even health care advances were accomplished initially to support our efforts in space.

'Space also allows us to better study and understand our home planet so we can be better stewards of Earth. 

'It also gives us perspective on humanity when you look at the planet without political borders and with a thin and fragile atmosphere. 

In response to people being 'terrified' of space, Kelly cited another recent survey that found many young people today aspire to be social media influencers

In response to people being 'terrified' of space, Kelly cited another recent survey that found many young people today aspire to be social media influencers

A total of 97 per cent of respondents said they saw the cosmos as a threat, citing space junk and climate change as their main concerns.

A total of 97 per cent of respondents said they saw the cosmos as a threat, citing space junk and climate change as their main concerns.

BRITAIN REVEALS PLANS TO CLEAN UP SPACE JUNK 

The UK government has announced plans for an 'RAC for space' as part of its vision to tackle millions of shards of debris clogging up near-Earth orbit.

It also wants to improve the sustainability of future space missions, with Science Minister George Freeman issuing a stern warning to the likes of Russia and China that 'the days of putting up whatever they want have got to be over'.

Britain wants to launch a spacecraft that can remain in orbit and remove multiple pieces of debris, forcing them to burn up in Earth's upper atmosphere, as depicted in this graphic above

Britain wants to launch a spacecraft that can remain in orbit and remove multiple pieces of debris, forcing them to burn up in Earth's upper atmosphere, as depicted in this graphic above 

He said a 'Wild West' space race without effective regulation would only serve to increase the growing threat of debris in orbit, including hundreds of old satellites.

Mr Freeman also told MailOnline that he expected Elon Musk to

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