Phoenix, AZ, October 16, 2006 – PlanetSpace Inc. today joined a growing list of NewSpace rocket firms offering to fly teachers into space as part of the Teachers in Space (TIS) project of the Space Frontier Foundation. The firm, based in Chicago, says it will be ready to carry passengers in 2008 to over 60 miles altitude – among them two teachers taking the ride of their life.
“The momentum is growing,” said Bill Boland, project manager of the TIS project. “PlanetSpace is showing it understands the need to inspire the next generation of students and teachers, and we appreciate their offer to join our team.”
PlanetSpace is a joint U.S./Canadian venture, and joins several other companies who are already participating in TIS. Among these are Dallas-based Armadillo Aerospace, Oklahoma’s Rocketplane Limited, Inc. and California’s Masten Space Systems, Inc. and XCOR Aerospace. Each of these companies is using a different approach to sub-orbital spaceflight, but all understand the need to excite the next generation of students to study science, math and engineering.
“No matter where they are from, these teachers will take their student’s imaginations with them as they climb aboard our rocket,” said PlanetSpace’s Chairman of the Board, Chirinjeev Kathuria. “Their excitement and inspiration will be contagious, and given the short turn around time of our spaceflight program, they can be back in the classroom and sharing their experience in just days, rather than months and years.”
Following in the footsteps of famed aerospace pioneer Burt Rutan and the flight of his XPrize winning SpaceShipOne in 2004, and building on the legacy of the former NASA program to fly teachers into space on the space shuttle, TIS has as its goal flying teachers from each of the fifty states aboard these new space vehicles as they come online within the next few years. PlanetSpace is the first company to join the program with a non-U.S. launch system. They and TIS have agreed to discuss flying both a U.S. and a Canadian teacher in an expansion of the original concept, given the close relationship between the countries.
“We are a hybrid firm, using both American and Canadian know how, personnel and funding,” said Geoff Sheerin, the firm’s visionary CEO. “It makes sense for us to support education in both nations, just as we share in so many other aspects of our history and cultures. We look forward to touching the hearts and minds of students from both sides of the border as we move together into space.”
“This partnership demonstrates two significant aspects of education and human space activity…they are intertwined, and they are valued around the world,” added the Foundation’s Executive Director, Jeff Krukin.
Since its rollout earlier this year at the National Science Teachers Association conference, the TIS project has garnered widespread support from educators, with several rides donated by NewSpace companies to help kick start the effort. The first new vehicles from various companies are expected to begin flying by the end of 2007, with operational services beginning around 2008 – once they have been proven safe. The Foundation believes the time to start this program is now, to begin building the excitement of students and teachers for what is to come in the opening of space. Beginning with these donated “seed” flights, the group is seeking companies and others wishing to sponsor branded “spaceflight scholarships” that can be used by selected teachers to buy rides on any proven vehicle of their choice.
“The promise of space is about going beyond boundaries,” said the Foundation’s Rick Tumlinson. “Boundaries of the imagination, like lines on maps, are about limits. Any student who watches their own teacher flying into space is going to be soaring right along with them into new realms of possibility.”
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 PlanetSpace see www.planetspace.org.