The International Space University had its official opening ceremony on Tuesday, putting Mountain View among other world-class cities, such as Barcelona and Beijing, deemed fit to host the august summer program.
Space enthusiasts from around the world gathered in the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts to see the ceremony, which kicked off the 22nd year of study at International Space University, or ISU, a roving space program settling for the summer at NASA Ames Research Center.
ISU has been educating many of the world's future leaders in space exploration, and this year, at NASA Ames, 130 graduate students from various backgrounds will investigate whether humans could settle in caves on Mars, among other things.
The event was a big enough deal that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger sent in a recorded greeting, which was projected onto a large screen.
"Welcome to California," he said in his famous accent to "130 students from around the world ... even Austria, yes!" He applauded those people who would explore the "vast unknowns of space."
The governor added that "California has something for everybody," and he hoped that when the students leave they say, "I'll be back."
The mayors of Mountain View and Sunnyvale, Margaret Abe-Koga and Tony Spitaleri, agreed to share the title of "Heart of Silicon Valley" between the two cities for the night, and took the opportunity to give the reputation of both places a boost.
Moderator Seth Shostak of SETI described Mountain View as a place where, at a coffee shop, you might meet a young person "busy coding so they can become a millionaire before they are 30 so they can afford an apartment somewhere."
A striking multimedia presentation to a live violin performance followed, giving a visual depiction of the delicate nature of life on Earth. Using computer animation, an image of the planet showed air traffic patterns, asteroids swirling around the Earth and oil consumption per country.
ISU founder and trustee Peter Diamandis said the challenges facing space exploration were not in conflict with the challenges facing life on Earth. Diamandis said the purpose of the ISU was to "create a cadre of leaders who believe they can take on those challenges."
The opening ceremony also was held to acknowledge Singularity University, which will be housed at NASA Ames Research Center permanently. Also founded by Diamandis, its graduate program focuses on growing cross-disciplinary fields, including biotechnology, nanotechnology and artificial intelligence.