Teachers in Space to Fly Student Experiments on Masten Vehicles

Masten's Xombie vehicle


In the summer of 2011, high-school science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) teachers will have the chance to fly experiments on an early unmanned flight of a suborbital reusable launch vehicle (RLV). The Excelsior STEM mission was announced here today by Teachers in Space, a nonprofit project of the Space Frontier Foundation.

Speaking at the annual Space Exploration Educators Conference, Teachers in Space project manager Edward Wright said “Excelsior STEM will provide a historic opportunity for high-school STEM teachers to gain hands-on experience with space-science hardware.”

The Excelsior STEM mission will fly on a vehicle built and operated by Masten Space Systems, based at Mojave Air and Space Port in Mojave, CA. Teachers will build experiments for the mission during a Suborbital Flight Experiment Workshop that will take place August 1-5 at the NASA Dryden Flight Research Center’s AERO Institute in Palmdale, CA. The workshop is being developed under a cooperative agreement between Teachers in Space and NASA. NASA Ames Research Center is helping to develop educational experiment kits that teachers will assemble during the workshop.

“In the past, build/fly workshops have enabled teachers and students to fly experiments on sounding rockets and high-altitude balloons,” Wright said. “Unfortunately, those flight opportunities were rare and expensive. We are about to enter a new era in space exploration. Companies like Masten Space Systems are developing suborbital reusable launch vehicles — fully reusable rocketships — that will bring about a revolution in frequent, low-cost access to space.

“Suborbital RLVs will provide reliable and affordable flight opportunities for scientists, teachers, and students. These vehicles are still in the early stages of development. Excelsior STEM will provide teachers with a unique early flight opportunity. By introducing teachers to the next generation of space hardware at this early stage, we are opening the door for many more education flights in the future. Within a few years students flying space experiments will be a routine part of STEM education.”

In addition to the Suborbital Flight Experiment Workshop, Teachers in Space announced four other workshops for high-school teachers — a Space Medicine and Human Factors workshop and three Suborbital Astronautics Workshops — all to take place during the summer of 2011.

Additional information and workshop applications can be found at: