Phoenix, AZ, November 19, 2006 – World-famous private space explorer Anousheh Ansari is joining the Advisory Board of the Teachers in Space (TIS) project of the Space Frontier Foundation. Mrs. Ansari, who recently returned from her inspiring week-long flight aboard the International Space Station, has agreed to lend her name and support to the organization’s plans to fly hundreds of teachers into space aboard a new generation of private “NewSpace” vehicles now in development across the United States.
“This is great news,” said Bill Boland, project manager of the Space Frontier Foundation’s TIS project. “Anousheh brings a special understanding of the real experience of spaceflight to our team. She represents exactly the kind of spirit and drive we want to communicate to the teachers and students of this nation.”
Mrs. Ansari joins Apollo Astronaut Buzz Aldrin, X Prize Founder Dr. Peter Diamandis, famed aircraft designer Burt Rutan, educator Dick Methia, and authors Frank White and Dr. Patrick Collins on the Teachers in Space Advisory Board. TIS, building on the legacy of the former NASA program to fly teachers into space on the space shuttle, has a goal of flying teachers from each of the 50 states aboard the next generation of commercial sub-orbital space vehicles as they come online within the next few years.
“I want the children of America and the world to be inspired by space, and to understand that if they study and work hard anything is possible,” said Mrs. Ansari. “By putting their own teachers into space, we can bring the concepts of space flight and advanced technologies right into the classrooms where they learn each day.”
With this announcement, Mrs. Ansari is coming full circle in her quest to help open up the field of space travel. It was her financial support that allowed the X Prize to succeed in inspiring the first-ever private manned space flight. Having now taken her own space-flight she is lending critical support at just the right time to the TIS project, which is designed to reward excellent teachers and fire the imaginations of their students, while supporting the growth of the NewSpace industry she helped begin.
“Without her, there may have been no X Prize, no SpaceShipOne,” said Foundation Founder Rick Tumlinson. “She and her family stepped up at a critical moment and helped kick-start the NewSpace industry – with the goal of opening space to more and more people. What she is doing here, inspiring the workforce of tomorrow, will ensure that goal is achieved.”
“Anousheh touched millions of people by sharing her experience as she flew around our planet on the ISS,” added the Foundation’s Executive Director, Jeff Krukin. “In supporting Teachers in Space as the world’s first NewSpace Ambassador, she will be a powerful and credible voice for education as a means to form and realize one’s dreams.”
The TIS project was announced this April at the National Science Teachers Association conference, and has garnered widespread support from educators, along with several suborbital spaceflight ‘rides’ donated by NewSpace companies to help kick start the effort. The first new vehicles are expected to begin flying by the end of 2008, with operational services beginning around 2009 – once they have been proven safe. The Foundation believes now is the time for a commercially-based effort enabling teachers to experience spaceflight, and building excitement in students and teachers about what opening of space to everyone means in the very near future. Beginning with these donated “seed” flights, TIS 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.