Among the most important “Enablers” of NewSpace is interest in “STEM” (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math). Exciting young people is why the Foundation has been so dedicated to the project of putting Teachers in Space, and it’s been one of the clearest benefits of all space activities, NASA’s human spaceflight to popular robotic missions like the Mars Rovers.
But while it’s far from clear that these expensive government programs were cost-effective in terms of youth-excitement created per taxpayer dollar, the “private sector” is doing much to excite interest in STEM by showing kids that the coolest of all STEM applications lie in overcoming gravity. The X Prize was hard to beat in terms of its “cool factor,” but videos like this one show that there is no shortage of creative amateurs out there using social media tools to do the same thing for a fraction of what even the X Prize or Teachers in Space cost.
Best line: “Oh, the math was nothing exciting. It was just a little differential calculus…”
In case you were wondering, our YouTube educator-humorist-heroes didn’t need a license for their launch because, under rules issued by the FAA’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation in 2008—hallelujah!—because it qualifies as an “amateur rocket,” defined as follows:
an unmanned rocket that:
(1) Is propelled by a motor or motors having a combined total impulse of
889,600 Newton-seconds (200,000 pound-seconds) or less; and
(2) Cannot reach an altitude greater than 150 kilometers (93.2 statue miles) above the earth’s surface.