Nyack, NY – September 30, 2008
Teachers in Space Program will Inspire American Students
A new astronaut program will help inspire American students to study math and science, countering the decline that has produced what experts call “a generation at risk.”
“For almost 50 years, teachers have told students that if they excelled at math and science, they could grow up to become astronauts,” said Teachers in Space project manager Edward Wright. “Up to now, that has mostly been a false hope.
“Even at the height of the Shuttle program, a student had a better chance of becoming an NBA basketball star than a NASA astronaut. What kind of message does that send to the next generation?”
“We want to turn that around,” said Rick Tumlinson, co- founder of the Space Frontier Foundation and a Teachers in Space advisor. “American industry is developing a new generation of reusable suborbital spacecraft, which promise dramatic improvements in cost and safety. We will use these spacecraft to fly large numbers of teachers in space and put those teachers right back into the classroom where they can share the excitement, knowledge, and experience of space travel.
“Imagine a thousand astronaut teachers in American classrooms, touching millions of students. What effect will that have on math and science education?”
To accomplish that goal, Teachers in Space will eventually need to raise $20 million a year. “That will allow us to fly 200 teachers a year, four from each and every state in the Union,” Wright said.
Response has been positive so far. Five aerospace companies that are developing suborbital vehicles have pledged flights to the program, and the United States Rocket Academy has purchased additional flights for Teachers in Space and other educational programs. Simultaneously, teachers have started to submit applications for the first Pathfinder Teacher Astronaut flights, which are expected to occur in 2010 or 2011.
Pathfinders will be the first Teacher Astronauts to fly in space and return to the classroom. Later, they will be invited to return each summer to help teach the next class of astronaut teachers.
The deadline for teachers to submit Pathfinder astronaut applications is December 4, 2008. Finalists will be announced and training will begin on selected weekends in 2009. Teachers who are selected will not have to give up their day jobs.
More information about Teachers in Space is available on the project website: teachersinspace.org.
Pathfinder application forms and information about the application process are available here .
Teachers in Space is a joint project of the Space Frontier Foundation and the United States Rocket Academy.