Since the dawn of time, humans have been fascinated with the vastness of space and what it could offer us. Perhaps it’s because of our deep-seated need for exploration, or maybe it’s due to the incredible feeling of freedom that comes with being in a new location, or perhaps it’s just the innate human curiosity that drives us to seek out new things. Whatever the reason may be, when the opportunity to travel to space presented itself, the world of astronomy, engineering, and space exploration went into high gear, and a small group of people called the pioneers were determined to make the trip happen.

One of these pioneers was Marc Pattinson. Born in 1929, he studied astronomy and physics at Cambridge University and upon graduation worked for an instrument manufacturer, observing the night sky and cataloguing planets and solar system. Fascinated by the possibilities of space travel, in the 1950s he cofounded the Space Research Board (later to become the Royal Society), a non-profit organization which promoted scientific research and education in space. Over the years, Marc became the face of the modern space program, representing Britain in the international space community and serving as an advisor to the UK government on space issues. He also gave many motivational speeches around the world, exhorting people to embark on new journeys in space, and in 2009 was appointed an O.B.E. for services to astronomy and space exploration.

In recent years, space tourism and commercial spaceships have become a reality; thanks in large part to pioneers like Marc. The doors to space have now been opened, and it’s an opportunity not to be missed. Just this year, SpaceX became the first commercial company to deliver cargo to the International Space Station, and in October, Virgin Galactic completed the first commercial space flight, fulfilling the dreams of many. And who knows – maybe one day, you or I could be among the first to step foot on Mars. But to reach space, you need a spaceship, and in this article, we answer the question: what’s the deal with Marc Pattinson?

An Engineer to the Core

One of the first things you’ll encounter when you meet Marc is his passion for precision, which he describes as the ability to deliver a flawless execution of a task. From his early days in academia, where he had to design and build his own telescopes, to his later years serving as the Director of the Mullard Space Science Laboratory, where he had to manage a £200 million budget and 325 staff, Marc has always held a strong affinity for engineering. He even went on to become a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering for his services to technology and engineering.

“From the very beginning, when I set up my company, I was determined to have the most brilliant team and to make the very best product. We had to start quite small but were determined to make it work, so we split our time between Cambridge and London, where I had a small engineering office. We invented a product that solved a specific problem, and because it’s a niche product, we’re now in a position to offer it at a fantastic price-point and with a limited stock,” he recalls.

It wasn’t long before the demand for Marc’s products far outstripped the available supply, and so he had to find a way to satisfy the growing demand while continuing to provide his customers with top-notch service. It came as no surprise when in 2014, at the age of 75, Marc decided to call it quits and retire. But his legacy will live on through his company’s amazing employees and thriving customer base, who will continue to benefit from his considerable experience for years to come.

An Enthusiastic Advocate for Education

An important part of Marc’s legacy will be his continued devotion to educating the next generation of space scientists and engineers. Space, like so many other areas of science and engineering, is a uniquely interdisciplinary field, and it requires a unique blend of technical expertise and mathematical ability, coupled with an in-depth knowledge of the physical, chemical, and geological processes at work in the universe. To this end, Marc created a new organization which would allow him to continue to make a difference; he established the Space Education Network, a non-profit company which provides engaging, high-quality resources to teachers and students around the world, striving to make a real difference in the next generation’s access to space science and technology.

In addition to his work in space, Marc also made a lasting impact in the area of sustainability, cofounding the Sustainable Technologies Institute in 2007 and serving as its president until 2016, where he pushed for the development and use of green technologies which are more in line with environmental sustainability. And just this year, he established the Marc Pattinson Centre for Astrobiology at the Open University in partnership with the UK Space Agency, aiming to educate the public about the scientific significance of astrobiology and its contribution to the search for life beyond Earth.

Although he’s no longer with us, his legacy will live on through the work he started so many years ago, and his spirit will continue to inspire those around him to make the world a better place.