On 22 March a series of horrific terror attacks hit Brussels. The fact that the terrorists are ready to strike at our society across a wide range of different locations shows their overall intent is to destabilise. However, fury, despair, fear and a resultant generalised discrimination must not be allowed to govern our lives. None of these terror attacks can be justified by any argument. And in these days, in particular, it is important not only to implement the necessary safety and security measures but also to recall our shared (European) values of freedom, human dignity and human rights. More than just a wish, it is our duty not to allow our society to be permanently undermined and damaged through such attacks and the measures we adopt in response to them.

Spaceship Earth - as seen from the International Space Station ISS. Credit: ESA.

Spaceship Earth – as seen from the International Space Station ISS. Credit: ESA.

While remaining careful in our daily individual and institutional lives to minimise any risks, we must also try to do everything in our power to ensure that we live those lives according to overarching values and play our part in building a positive future. In this regard, space can perform a crucial role since it is capable of reaching beyond and above all earthly borders. Of course, space activities bring direct return on investment in areas such as Earth observation, navigation and telecommunication. In addition to that, however, we are in a position to be able to inspire people through the wonders of exploration. By fascinating and inspiring in equal measure we provide a great source of motivation. This is precisely what people need in a situation in which we are facing multiple challenges in the form of economic crises, migration, climate change, conflicts and terrorism. It is our obligation to society to advocate a better world and to work with this well-known quote by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry ever in mind, “As to the future, our task is not so much to predict it as to make it possible.”*

This encompasses not only our main daily subject of “space” but also our positioning in society beyond a mere search for individual advantage. Each one of us has a responsibility to that society and can contribute through our individual behaviour to enhancing the world in which we live. It is my firm belief that our perfect spacecraft Earth deserves from us, its custodians, every effort to make life liveable for all.

* “Pour ce qui est de l’avenir, il ne s’agit pas de le prévoir, mais de le rendre possible” – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry in “Terre des hommes“.