Phoenix, AZ, April 21, 2006 – Responding to the recent announcement of the Space Frontier Foundation’s Teachers in Space program, three U.S. suborbital space flight firms have donated the trip of a lifetime: a free ride for a teacher on their rocket ships when they become operational in the next few years. Dallas-based Armadillo Aerospace, Oklahoma’s Rocketplane and California’s XCOR Aerospace are each developing their own vehicles to carry customers to the edge of space, much like Burt Rutan’s famed SpaceShipOne. Each of the companies has committed to providing a ride for a teacher, valued at between $100,000 and $200,000.
“These folks get it!” said Bill Boland, team leader of the Teachers In Space program. “They understand how the real-life experience of space flight can touch the classroom. These new American heroes are offering tickets, at a real financial cost to them, to support America’s future, its teachers and students.”
As we begin the new millennium, America’s educational system is facing major challenges, particularly in the areas of math and science. At the same time, a new suborbital human space flight industry is being born, offering much lower costs than the discontinued NASA Teacher in Space program, which cost millions per flight. That program selected only a few teachers, and required them to leave their classrooms for months, if not years. The new Teachers In Space program will recognize many more excellent teachers, giving them an early chance to fly, and getting them back into the classroom where they can pass on their excitement to their students.
“To open space, we will need a workforce that is educated and motivated. Inspiring today’s students and their teachers by putting them in direct contact with this new space industry does just that,” stated Jeff Greason, XCOR President.
“Inspiration always accelerates education,” added President and CEO of Rocketplane, George French, “and history shows that there is almost nothing that is more inspiring than space flight.”
“Reducing the ‘degrees of separation’ between students and space will have a significant impact on their selection of goals to work toward,” remarked John Carmack of Armadillo Aerospace. “Just knowing a teacher that knows a teacher that has actually been to space brings it within reach.”
The Foundation’s Teachers In Space program was first announced several weeks ago at the National Science Teachers Association conference. Its goal is to send hundreds of teachers a year into space. The group is seeking private and government support for “scholarships” that can be used by teachers to buy rides on any proven vehicle. Although commercial flights will not be available for more than a year, the Foundation is developing this program now, so once the firms are flying and capable, the first teachers will be selected. As a first step, Teachers In Space is asking for selection criteria suggestions on its web site: www.teachersinspace.org.
“This is an unprecedented public show of unity by these leaders of NewSpace. In acknowledging their generosity, we are not endorsing any firms, technologies or plans over any others,” explained the Foundation’s Rick Tumlinson. “But we thank and honor them for being the first to step up to the challenge. We are eager to hear from other companies, organizations and individuals that want to support this exciting program, and we hope to be able to make more such announcements in the near future. This is just the beginning!”
For more information on the Teachers In Space program, please e-mail us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Related: MSNBC.com’s article by science editor Alan Boyle: Private space ventures save seats for teachers, Suborbital companies reserve three free tickets to edge of space