The View From Here


Written by: developer

It is hard not to be continually inspired in our work at the Space Foundation. I have been particularly blessed to have had a very good run of this lately.

It starts with the terrific team I get to work with every day. I was reminded of this most strikingly when I escorted a visitor through our Discovery Center. The Gallery and our labs were overflowing, as each of our education specialists was leading a class of excited and attentive schoolchildren. The energy was so high, I had to tell my guest that it was not a staged event, but rather, a common occurrence with our full class schedule.

Inspiration was also reaffirmed as one of our educators shared with me his excitement about witnessing his first launch at the Cape in December when our educators were in Florida for one of our Space in the Community activities. It caused me to recall the two launches I’ve been fortunate to see, including the ill-fated Columbia. But nothing inspires as much as a launch, and I encourage everyone to try to have the experience.

Recent travel to two international events, where I represented the Space Foundation, provided several additional sources of inspiration.

The UNISPACE +50 High Level Forum in Dubai brought together 200 participants from around the world, where we discussed space as a driver for socio-economic sustainable development. Organized by the United Nations Office of Outer Space Affairs, the event included a number of heads of space agencies, as well as participants from a number of nations, who presented about the critical role space can play. I was pleased to see a number of long time friends and colleagues in the large Chinese delegation. During the Forum, I had the opportunity to meet and hear astronaut Scott Kelly, who was appointed United Nations Champion for Space. I was pleased to join leaders of partner organizations, including the Secure World Foundation, Space Generation Advisory Council and others, on stage for a Space and Society panel. During another session, my presentation on our Space Technology Hall of Fame Inductee WATEX highlighted the critical role space applications play on Earth.

The second event was the Asia Pacific Regional Space Agencies Forum (APRSAF-23), held in Manila. An annual meeting focused on civil space issues relevant to the region, the Forum also attracts a number of European participants. The Space Foundation, in conjunction with the U.S. State Department, led a first-time industry delegation to the event. We were joined by representatives of Boeing, Orbital ATK, L3 Communications and Maui Economic Development Board. This afforded us an opportunity to conduct a well received special program on the role of commercial space in a joint U.S., Japanese and Philippine panel.

Our other activity in Manila remains the most inspiring of all. We hosted a New Generation Space Leaders speed mentoring event and reception. Primarily attended by Philippine university students, their enthusiasm was absolutely infectious, with terrific questions during the mentoring rounds and superb discussions in the networking. Most were so engaged they stayed well past the allotted closing time. These young professionals were thrilled — “I never thought I would have the opportunity to spend time talking directly to a Boeing executive.” Anecdotally, one of the young students travelled 10 hours by bus to attend, and he was the one who would not leave. (We finally loaded him up with food for his return trip.) Since our visit, many have formed a social media group to keep in touch.

But more significantly, all of the executives said the evening was the highlight of their trip, and all found the experience inspirational for them. Thanks and appreciation to my colleagues for sharing their time and insight. And a particular shout out to Neevy Van Landingham and Stephanie Wan of the State Department for their personal commitment to the success of this effort.

As we start 2017, I hope everyone takes a moment to enjoy what is special about our industry and our work, and to be ‘re-inspired’ by everything it contributes and the excitement it creates. My best wishes for a most successful year, and I look forward to seeing you all again soon.

This article is part of Space Watch: January 2017 (Volume: 16, Issue: 1).