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WASHINGTON _ Americans are not enthusiastic about an ambitious space program and would cut NASA's budget before other critical national priorities, an Orlando Sentinel poll shows.
The survey found little support for a long-discussed manned mission to Mars and revealed a general sentiment favoring a space program that yields practical research benefits, said Thomas Riehle, president of Ipsos-Reid U.S. Public Affairs, which conducted the national poll for the Sentinel.
The poll did show backing for the space shuttle program and the international space station, which is mired in cost overruns and uncertainty about its long-term scientific value.
More than half of those polled said the shuttle program should continue, while 42 percent said the space station was somewhat important and 19 percent said it was very important.
Riehle said the results indicate that the public fascination with reaching for the stars has been tempered by more earthly concerns such as the war on terrorism. Even those who support the shuttle and space station were somewhat …