Watch astronauts blast off to the International Space Station

Researchers are reporting that the vast majority of Americans believe the United States should take the lead in space exploration. Only 31 percent say that the search for alien life and life-supporting planets is top priority, while 42 percent believe it's low priority, and 27 percent believe it's not important or should not be done. "Indeed, on most issues regarding NASA and space exploration, there are no more than modest differences among the generational cohorts", Pew Research Center concluded.

Bridenstine, who became NASA administrator in April, said in a Washington Post interview that he has "talked to many large corporations that are interested in getting involved in [managing the ISS] through a consortium". Even as private companies are emerging in the industry, NASA remains an absolutely necessary source of space discovery, according to study participants.

In terms of advancement, approximately 50 percent of Americans believe space tourism will be possible within 50 years, although 58 percent say that they wouldn't actually want to leave Earth.

"Strong public support that the US should continue to be at the vanguard of space exploration is widely shared across gender, educational and political groups". 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.

This issue is very relevant due to the emergence of private companies, including Elon Musk's SpaceX, that are venturing out in space.

At 1.15pm BST (8.15am EDT) on Friday NASA will stream live the Soyuz MS-09 mission module attempting to connect to the ISS.

This is not the first time that NASA has looked toward commercial collaboration.

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