Most of the young scientists and engineers that I know did not persevere through 4+ years of technical university coursework solely out of a love of math and science. They are some of the smartest, most ambitious, most articulate and competent people in the world and they chose to get a technical education because of their passion and dedication to expanding our space activities.
Many of us were inspired to one day become a part of the space program and it was in the name of that dream that we excelled. These bright young people are now going on to do great things for our home planet- both inside of and outside of the space industry. But we never forget our roots. We know that it was our love for space that made us who we are and we know that it is our greatest responsibility to pass on that passion and zeal for life to the next generation.
I believe that space activities are impacting society through inspiration.
I think the other major impact of space has been in inspiring a planet that anything is possible. Imagine (as I have to) all the world- both behind the Iron Curtain and in front watching the same broadcast from the moon in awe that a human- one of us- was up there on behalf of all mankind- millions of miles from Earth stepping onto the surface for the 1st time.
Space still inspires people. It inherently has people see the insignificance of small problems and the vastness of what lies ahead. It takes you from thinking on a national scale to thinking about things on a galactic scale. George T. Whitesides often tells students looking through his telescopes- that the last thing the photon that just hit your retina touched was the rings of Saturn. It never ceases to amaze…
It is more important then people realize to have bit of news, a picture from Hubble, or a human interest story that gives people cause for inspiration and hope- that society is advancing, that science in contributing to the quality of our lives. We have the privilege and the responsibility of being an entity that can provide that for society and in fact it is one of the things I think people expect for their civil contributions. I think it is one thing we should be willing to happily deliver on.”
Space Generation Foundation