Seven Astronaut Teacher Candidates Announced for Suborbital Flights



At the NewSpace 2009 conference in Mountain View, Calif., Teachers in Space introduced the next generation of space explorers: seven astronaut teachers who will boldly go where no astronaut has gone before — back into the classroom.

“Fifty years after the Mercury 7, on the 40th anniversary of the Apollo Moon landing, we’re rebooting the American space program,” said Teachers in Space project manager Edward Wright said. “The Pathfinder 7 are now training to fly on suborbital spacecraft under development by private companies. They will be the first astronaut teachers to fly in spce and return to the classroom, paving the way for hundreds to follow.”

A joint project of the Space Frontier Foundation and the United States Rocket Academy, Teachers in Space plans on using suborbital flights donated by and purchased from five suborbital companies. “we want to make teachers heroes in space, and heroes in the classroom,” Wright said.

The Pathfinder 7 Teacher Astronaut candidates are:

Maureen Louis Adams, 54, of Lampasas, TX. She is an elementary school teacher/principal from Killeen, TX. She established an elementary robotics program in central Texas, has been a guest instructor at US Space Camp, and has flown weightless experiments on NASA aircraft twice.

James Kuhl, 53, of Syracuse, NY. He is a 6th grade Earth Science teacher from Syracuse, NY. The third time is the charm for Kuhl, who applied for the original NASA Teacher in Space program in 1985; and applied for the second teacher program, called the Educator Astronaut program. He was a finalist in 2004. He has received the Presidential Award for Excellence in Math and Science Education and serves on the board of directors of the Science Teachers Association of New York State.

Lanette Oliver, 43, of San Antonio. She is an elementary science specialist for the Judson Independent School District. She grew up on a farm in Washington, Oklahoma. She now teaches predominantly minority students in San Antonio, TX. She has been a Golden Apple Award winner, a Texas Space Grant Scholarship winner, and was one of four teachers selected by the Texas Space Grant Consortium to fly aboard a NASA microgravity flight in January, 2009.

Stephen Heck, 56, of Cincinnati. He is an 8th grade Earth Science teacher in the Milford Exempted Village School District. He is a former department chairman and professor of Aerospace Studies at the University of Cincinnati. A US Air Force veteran, he has over 2,700 flight hours in jet aircraft and holds two world records set in KC-10 aircraft.

Rachael Manzer, 39, of East Hartland, CT. She is a district science coach in the Suffield School District. She teaches and models inquiry-based science lessons for K-12 classrooms. She is a former NASA distance learning educator and was a finalist for the NASA Educator Astronaut selection in 2004. She is president-elect of the Connecticut Science Teachers Association.

Chantelle Rose, 36, of St. Paris, OH. Rose teaches science at Graham High School in St. Paris. She was named the 2006 Ohio Teacher of the Year by the Air Force Association, the 2007 Ohio Earth Science Teacher of the Year by the National Association of Geoscience Teachers, and the 2008 Aerospace Teacher of the Year by the Scott Crossfield Foundation. She was a finalist for the NASA Educator Astronaut selection in 2004.

Robert “Mike” Schmidt, 31, of Tucson, AZ. A second-generation teacher, Schmidt teaches math to grades 9, 10, 11, and 12 at University High School, in the Tucson Unified School District. An 8-year education veteran, he found out about Teachers in Space while attending a National Science Teachers Association meeting.

  • eh.

    Really – no minorities? No diversity? Did any minorities apply? I’m astonished by this as a Californian, and a clear credentialed, tenured, female, minority science teacher. I never even heard of this program and I work in space advocacy! How did that happen?

    A bit disappointed in the lack of outreach and selection.

  • Beleav

    Those that care to be informed and seek out phenomenal professional development opportunities would have found this application. Many of those selected are NEAT Teachers and that selection pool had many minorities, therefore eh, yes, you are making comments that are not warranted. Have you flown weightless through Northrup Grumman’s Weightless Flights of Discovery? Have you been involved in SETI’s Voyages Through Time? Attended a NASA workshop? That is out there for teachers to apply to as well. The application for this was long and extensive. The teachers selected are a crop of outstanding individuals who sacrifice a lot outside their normal jobs as full time teachers to inspire our next generation. It is unfortunate when people care to make comments about a person when they know nothing of them or the circumstances which may have placed them in not so favorable light. Get informed eh and Reagan, stop being judgmental and take action. If you seek to be a person who is worthy of such a selection then you will not have time to whine.