“Teachers in Space” Becomes “Citizens in Space”
Teachers in Space, a nonprofit program that seeks to put large numbers of astronaut teachers into American classrooms, is undergoing major changes. Teachers in Space is now becoming “Citizens in Space.” The new name indicates a new emphasis on citizen science as well as citizen spaceflight.
The United States Rocket Academy created Teachers in Space to allow large numbers of teachers to fly in space and return to the classroom. Teachers in Space acquired a contract for 10 space flights with one of the new suborbital companies — Mojave, California-based XCOR Aerospace. This contract represents the largest single bulk purchase of suborbital flights to date. Teachers in Space also selected its first Pathfinder astronaut candidates. These astronaut candidates are already training with instructors such as former Space Shuttle command and XCOR Aerospace chief test pilot Col. Rick Searfoss (USAF-ret.).
As we developed Teachers in Space, the United States Rocket Academy received public feedback calling for a broader, more inclusive program. That feedback included numerous requests from private, religious, and home-school teachers, informal educators, and others.
At the same time, we realized that new technological developments are making it possible for private citizens to become involved in the scientific process. More and more, the professional scientific community is recognizing the importance of contributions made by citizen scientists. Citizen scientists are now discovering exoplanets and dinosaurs, monitoring climate and endangered species, and helping to map the human genome.
The United States Rocket Academy believes the development of low-cost reusable suborbital spacecraft will be the next great enabler, allowing citizens to participate in space exploration and space science.
Citizens have told us that education is not just a process that occurs within the public schools. Science fairs, hackerspaces, museums, as well as public, private, religious, and home schools all have a role to play.
The United States Rocket Academy is listening to those citizens by creating a more inclusive program that will allow teachers, students, informal educators, and others to become citizen scientists and citizen astronauts.
We still want to put a thousand astronaut teachers into American schools, but we also want to engage America’s students and reach out to the public through museums, science centers, and other venues. We want to make space research and space exploration part of the mainstream, not treasures locked away in the ivory tower.
When Apollo 12 commander Pete Conrad was asked what it was like to fly in space, he said, “Everybody should go!” We agree.
Citizens in Space will soon announce a new Pathfinder program for teachers and others who want to become citizen astronaut candidates.
Space is not just the final frontier. It’s the citizen-science frontier.
The latest details can be found on our website at www.citizensinspace.org.
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Responses from Readers:
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