In the absence of a major space mission, the role of inspiring young people to study science, technology and maths has fallen to a British project with its sights set on shattering the world land-speed record.
The Bloodhound Project is offering curriculum tie-ins to colleges and schools to promote STEM subjects as part of its bid to build the first car to travel faster than 1,000mph.
More than 170 colleges are already signed up to the project, along with more than 2,400 primary and secondary schools and 33 universities. All the design and operational data gathered in the project have been made available for study.
Project director Richard Noble, who held the world land-speed record between 1983 and 1997, said that some project sponsors had seen a rise in applications from young people inspired by the project and, as a result, looking to study STEM subjects.
"Over the next 20 years 60 per cent of the skilled workforce will disappear from high-tech industry," Mr Noble said. "To replace those retiring we need a huge influx of skilled labour.
"Colleges are ideally placed to do this and the Bloodhound Project provides the perfect subject to engage their students."
The challenge for the Bristol-based enterprise is to build a jet - and rocket-powered car that will reach 1,000mph (Mach 1.4), which is nearly 250mph faster than the existing record.
The vehicle it has designed to achieve this weighs 6.5 tonnes and generates the equivalent of 135,000 horsepower - about the same as around 180 Formula One cars.
The team has identified a dried lake bed called the Hakskeen Pan in South Africa as the place to carry out the record attempts, which are planned for next year.
The project is currently seeking a curriculum director to develop learning materials and opportunities for schools and colleges particularly, although not exclusively, in STEM subjects.