Kuala Lumpur: Former American astronaut Capt Winston E. Scott studied music and walked in space. He knew what he wanted and focused his mind on making it possible.
"Believe, and you can do it," said Scott who flew on two successful trips into space on the orbiter Endeavor in 1996 followed by a trip on the ill-fated shuttle Columbia a year later.
"When I speak to students in the United States or in Russia, I look directly into their eyes and tell them that they can do it. That is my personal message through my eye contact with them," he said at a lecture on his experiences to some 200 students at the National Planetarium here today.
"Primarily, my aim is to motivate them. I want them to understand how exciting a career in space can be. How fun and rewarding it can be and also to instill in them that it is possible for them to do it."
Scott obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in music from the Florida State University in 1972 and did a Master of Science degree in aeronautical engineering in the United States Naval Postgraduate School in 1980.
In March 1992, he was selected as an astronaut for the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) at the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Centre in Houston.
As the mission specialist on the Endeavor and Columbia, he logged a total of 24 days, 14 hours and 34 minutes in space, including three space walks totaling 19 hours and 26 minutes.
One of the space walks was made in 1997 with another astronaut to manually capture a satellite that was dislocated due to a malfunction.
During his 16-day space trip in 1997 on the Columbia, one of the other crew members aboard was Kalpana Chawla, who was killed in 2003 with the rest of the crew when Columbia disintegrated minutes before heading back to earth.
Scott is now the executive director of the Florida Space Authority and is actively involved in space-related industrial, economic and educational initiatives.
He is on a visit to Malaysia to promote space technology and also share his experiences.
"We are sowing the seeds on different areas where we can build a strong partnership in many different areas. Space is only one of them. Transportation and education are other areas where we can build a strong cooperation," he said.