In brief presentations to the attendees at the first general session, Kris Kimel, president of the Kentucky Science and Technology Corporation, which is the managing partner for Kentucky Space, described how breakthroughs in science bring wealth, not just jobs. For a state like Kentucky, which leans heavily on well known and traditional industries, supporting this kind of innovation is critically important. Locations with concentrations of technical and human capital attract talent and investment. It's a virtuous cycle.
Later in the day, Kentucky Space students Jason Bratcher and Samir Rawashdeh detailed the work being done in Kentucky Space to develop a particular kind of talent and unique technologies during an extended poster display by organizations and companies doing cutting edge work in the commonwealth. With the recent launches of Frontier-1 and Monday's Discovery flight playing on a looping video nearby, passersby, who work with nano-technologies, and in the medical and material sciences themselves, were sufficiently impressed and many lingered to chat. The words "Kentucky" and "Space" next to each other have a certain shock value. But given its emphasis on building small spacecraft doing low cost, high value science, given the recent successes in launching these Kentucky-built craft, given the potential for standardized research in "plug and play" micro-labs built by students in Kentucky and set to be delivered by the now-docked Discovery (video below), that unfamiliarity may not last. Long known for its product on grassy field and beneath eastern mountain, Kentucky, instead, could become a place where talented people choose to stay and find discovery overhead.