Phoenix, AZ, September 18, 2006 – Joining a growing group of space companies, Masten Space Systems of Mojave, California announced today it is donating a trip to fly a U.S. teacher to space aboard a sub-orbital spaceship. The donation goes to the Space Frontier Foundation’s Teachers in Space (TIS) project, whose goal is to fly at least a hundred teachers into sub-orbital space in the next few years. With a price tag of between $150k and $200k, the seat aboard Masten’s proposed vehicle represents a valuable contribution to a project that promises to change the face of American science education.
“Rides to space are what we’re about,” said Bill Boland, project manager of the Space Frontier Foundation’s TIS project. “Masten Space System’s generosity means another teacher will have the experience of a lifetime. It’s great to have them onboard.”
Already on the team are Dallas-based Armadillo Aerospace, Oklahoma’s Rocketplane Limited, Inc. and California’s XCOR Aerospace. These companies, representing a wide variety of approaches to the sub-orbital space flight business, all see the TIS project as critical to inspiring the new generation of employees and customers they will need to open space to all of America. Following in the footsteps of famed aerospace pioneer Burt Rutan and the flight of his X Prize winning SpaceShipOne in 2004, these and other “NewSpace” companies are working to build a commercial industry flying people and payloads to space and back. Built on the legacy of the former NASA program which was to fly a few teachers into space on the space shuttle, TIS has as its goal flying a hundred or more teachers, two from each state in the union, aboard these new space vehicles as they are proven in the next few years.
“We want to democratize space,” stated Michael Mealling, Marketing VP of Masten Space Systems. “We want to encourage K-12 students to be in close proximity to the kind of science only NASA has been able to do until now. By flying their teachers we can create a direct connection to these kids in a way national space programs could never do. We can make it something they experience and can relate to in the form of someone they respect and work with everyday.”
A funded and operating space firm, Masten is currently developing a lunar lander test vehicle to fly in October at the X Prize Cup in New Mexico. The firm will follow this project with a development effort leading to its first sub-orbital flyer in approximately 3 years. Although this and other such projects are in their early stages, the TIS team welcomes their commitment, knowing that some or all of the firms competing in this new market will succeed, and when they do, U.S. education will be the real winner.
“This is a completely new field of endeavor, it is high risk and the winners and losers are yet to be known,” said the Foundation’s Rick Tumlinson. “But Masten and the other NewSpace firms are already winners in our book. By stepping up now, they are showing vision, and helping us build the momentum we need to grow this program into a national success – and if it succeeds, it will then feed-back into the NewSpace industry, so everyone wins.”
The Foundation’s Teachers In Space program was announced earlier this year at the National Science Teachers Association conference. Beginning with these “seed” flights, the group is seeking private and government support for “spaceflight scholarships” that can be used by teachers to buy rides on any proven vehicle as they reach maturity. Although commercial flights will not be available for a few years, the Foundation is developing this program now, as it believes our students cannot wait for inspiration. Once the firms are flying and capable, the first teachers will already be selected and ready to go.
You can learn more about Teachers in Space at: http://tis.spacefrontier.org/ or e-mail us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about Masten Space Systems and their products see www.masten-space.com.