Pictured in two of the three images here is the 21 meter tracking antenna as viewed from the ground control room at the brand new Morehead State University Space Sciences Center yesterday. One of only a handful of undergraduate centers devoted solely to the space sciences, the center represents a big investment in the future of Kentucky.
It features an enormous anechoic chamber and several large clean rooms that are nearing completion, a digital star theater hosting tours of the universe incorporating the latest astronomical data, classroom and fabricating facilities too numerous to mention, and ample room for all to grow.
Here, a complete range of astronautical instruction and engineering can be accomplished.
Like the exploration the ocean depths or the pursuit of an edge in any environment, the systematic and risky exploration of frontiers produces unexpected insight. And space exploration has proved incredibly beneficial in that regard, spinning off technologies like novel resins used materials science that are able to withstand extreme heat, nanotubes deployed in biosensor applications, and air purification technologies that can kill airborne pathogens and preserve food. Each of these and many more discoveries can be traced to a willingness to prepare for and take risks in the harsh vacuum of space.
For for Kentucky, the benefits are wonderfully suggestive. Thanks to the vision and skill of a handful of people, the investment you see - and many more you don't - represents a new possibility - an entirely new industry in the commonwealth that can design, fabricate, test and fly the science and technology needed in space, and in doing so, shape the young minds that will make discoveries unimagined.
It's wonderfully suggestive because in the waning days of the 18th century, Kentucky was known as the frontier. In the 21st century, it can be again.