Neil deGrasse Tyson on America’s faltering aerospace industry and the impact on all our innovation it has.

when I stand in front of eighth-graders I don’t want to have to say to them, “Become an aerospace engineer so that you can build an airplane that’s 20 percent more fuel efficient than the ones your parents flew on.” A laudable goal, for sure. But to attract the best students in the room, what I should be saying is, “Become an aerospace engineer so that you can design the airfoil that will be the first piloted craft in the rarefied atmosphere of Mars.” “Become a biologist because we need people to look for life, not only on Mars but in the subsurface oceans of Jupiter’s moon Europa, and elsewhere in the galaxy.” “Become a chemist because we want to understand more about the elements on the moon and the molecules in space.” You put that vision out there, and my job becomes easy; I just have to invoke the familiar vision, and kids’ ambitions rise up within them. Their engines get lit, and they become self-
propelled on the path to the frontier.


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