The New Space Race

Competition Breeds Innovation

On July 20, 1969, three astronauts made history when the Apollo 11 mission team landed on the moon, but more than 400,000 people — engineers, mathematicians, chemists and others — made the historic moment possible. Today, more than 70 countries have space programs and—in addition to Virgin Galactic, Blue Origin and SpaceX — aerospace companies like Boeing and Sierra Nevada Corporation are working on space transportation initiatives.

Stories Can Engage Students

In the 1960s, the press turned Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins into celebrities. In the 1970s and ’80s, “The Right Stuff“ (the book by Tom Wolfe and its subsequent movie adaptation) brought attention to the test pilots who made history as the astronauts in NASA’s first manned space mission, Project Mercury. Over the course of decades, astronauts routinely went on goodwill tours around the world after returning home from their missions, which brought press coverage and public attention to the space program.

Speeding Up the Innovation Process

We’ve entered an era of rapid advancements in science. In addition to these new achievements in space, we saw the development of a COVID-19 vaccine in less than a year — a remarkable achievement, as the fastest any previous vaccine had been developed was four years, the time it took to develop the vaccine for mumps in the 1960s.



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Michael Milligan

Michael Milligan

Executive Director & CEO of ABET, the global accreditor of college and university programs in the STEM disciplines.