NASA recently announced that it is exploring two new spaces. No, not some far-away planet. Virtual spaces: Pinterest and Giphy.
Clearly this is a further push to market to young demographics like Millennials who are the largest users of these social media platforms.
Why? A 2014 study by the General Social Survey (GSS) found that 22% of Americans said they were very interested in issues of space exploration and 45% were moderately interested. A third (33%) of Americans were not at all interested. Interestingly, these figures have remained fairly steady since the GSS started exploring the topic back in 1979.
But guess who cares about space the most? Signs point to Millennials.
Many Millennials also appear to be willing to open their own wallets to fund space exploration. An Ipsos study found that two in five Americans (43%) would pay a special $10 tax to fund an unmanned exploration mission to the newly-discovered Proxima Centauri, including an outright majority (63%) of 18-34 year olds. Perhaps that’s because Millennials are the most likely to believe in life on other planets. An Ipsos study found that 46% of Millennials strongly agree life on other planets is plausible and 26% strongly agree that aliens or extraterrestrials have visited earth.
In that same poll, Ipsos posed many questions to Americans about a variety of space topics, and Millennials far outnumbered their older counterparts when it came to awareness. Four in ten (41%) Millennials had heard of the concept referred to as the “goldilocks zone,” where planets are near enough to a star so that liquid water could form, compared to two in ten (23%) Baby Boomers. Some 28% of 55+ had heard of the discovery of a planet in the “goldilocks zone” at Proxima Centauri — a number that jumped to 41% among Millennials.
Millennials don’t just want to watch animated GIFs and look at pictures on Pinterest. They want to visit space. A recent Ipsos poll asked Americans about their interest in going on a trip to Mars. The survey found that those between the ages of 18-34, more so than any generation, would be very likely to volunteer for a trip to the Red Planet (19%, compared to 13% of Gen Xers; 5% of Baby Boomers). Indeed, this is interesting for a generation that wasn’t even around for Kennedy’s infamous 1961 speech, which led to the space race that culminated in the moon landing.
Space travel is risky though. What’s interesting is that when asking the question with the caveat that a mission to Mars could be fatal, interest decreased only slightly from 12% to 9% of all Americans. Again, that number was especially high among Millennials (15%) and the lowest for Baby Boomers (4%).
NASA isn’t the only group hoping to capitalize on interest in space travel, of course. Virgin Galactic, Space X and Blue Origins are among the players leading the charge. While their plans may range from space tourism to colonizing Mars, they seem to have a willing new market to tap.
So, as the country continues to press forward on space exploration, its joined by an intrepid and eager generation that’s keen to help write the next chapter. Perhaps their willingness to take part in this quest co