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What Do Kids Think Of Another Moon Shot?

ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

What the future holds may indeed, as President Obama said today, depend on what young people think about going to the moon and beyond.

Nell Greenfieldboyce went out in Washington, D.C., to ask some young people.

NELL GREENFIELDBOYCE: Laura Favenflathen(ph) is from Philadelphia. She's 20 years old, so she was born years after Apollo ended and astronauts stopped walking on the moon.

When you think of the moon and people walking on the moon, how does that seem to you?

Ms. LAURA FAVENFLATHEN: I'm not really fazed by that. It doesn't seem particularly - it doesn't surprise. It doesn't seem like a big ordeal to me.

GREENFIELDBOYCE: If they had another moon landing and it was sort of on TV, would you be watching it?

Ms. FAVENFLATHEN: Yeah, absolutely, I'd watch it. Definitely.

GREENFIELDBOYCE: Someone her age only knows about moonwalking from movies and books, and she's got plenty of company.

Mr. ROGER LAUNIUS (Curator, National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institute): Half the world's population has been born since we stopped going to the moon.

GREENFIELDBOYCE: Roger Launius is a curator at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum.

Mr. LAUNIUS: In the true sense of the term, it's history for them.

GREENFIELDBOYCE: NASA has long-term plans to put people back on the moon and go on to Mars. But young adults have grown up with routine space shuttle flights and tragedies, like Challenger and Columbia. One survey a few years ago suggested that they aren't that enthusiastic about a moon mission. If the younger generation isn't as interested, that could be a problem for NASA because today's kids will be tomorrow's voting taxpayers.

Mr. TYCE KAMEYAK(ph): I'm Tyce Kameyak, and I'm seven.

GREENFIELDBOYCE: And do you have any thoughts about whether or not people should be going to the moon?

Mr. KAMEYAK: That'd be good, but I don't really know, like, if they should or shouldn't because, yeah.

GREENFIELDBOYCE: Well, like, for example, would you personally be interested if given an opportunity to get off the planet?

Mr. KAMEYAK: Yeah, that would be interesting.

GREENFIELDBOYCE: Other kids, like Abby Jones(ph) and Alena Church(ph), are more gung-ho.

Ms. ABBY JONES: I think it'd be really - be really fun to walk on the moon and search everything, all the planets and asteroid belts.

Ms. ALENA CHURCH: I think that NASA should be returning. My friends, well some of them, they are interested in space, and I know I am, but I'm not sure about other people around me.

Mr. CHARLES BOLDEN (Former Astronaut): If I go to a classroom today, it's different than when I went when I was an astronaut in 1980.

GREENFIELDBOYCE: Charles Bolden is President Obama's pick to be the next head of NASA.

Mr. BOLDEN: I could ask how many of you want to be an astronaut, and every hand went up in the class.

GREENFIELDBOYCE: These days, he says, he'll see maybe three hands.

Mr. BOLDEN: We do have to reinvigorate the interest of youth in this country if we're going to do anything.

GREENFIELDBOYCE: So, NASA is Tweeting and Facebooking and trying to catch the attention of teenagers like August Hagen(ph), who is, you know, kind of open to the idea.

Are you interested in moon exploration? Would you - is an astronaut a career that you would ever consider?

Mr. AUGUST HAGEN: I don't think I would consider it, but I think it might be an interesting, just, thing to study.

GREENFIELDBOYCE: Why wouldn't you consider it?

Mr. HAGEN: I sort of have a fear of heights.

GREENFIELDBOYCE: Nell Greenfieldboyce, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Nell Greenfieldboyce is a NPR science correspondent.
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