Alabama Students to Name Rocket City Space Pioneers’ Lunar Lander

Dynetics PR — Huntsville, Ala. (Jan. 31, 2012) – Today, on the 54th anniversary of the launching of the Explorer 1 satellite, the Rocket City Space Pioneers (RCSP) invited Alabama public school fourth graders to participate in their mission to the Moon.  RCSP, the Alabama Tourism Department and the Alabama Department of Education unveiled the details of a contest that will allow fourth graders to name RCSP’s Moon-bound lander.  The winning class will get a free trip to Space Camp®, and the teacher will receive a $500 gift card for classroom supplies.

The announcement was made at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center®’s Davidson Center, and the event featured a rocket engine firing and a display of hardware from Rocket City Space Pioneers team members.

Tim Pickens, team leader for the Rocket City Space Pioneers, said:  “The RCSP team is excited to involve Alabama students in our mission. Another one of our missions is educational outreach. The

Rocket City Space Pioneers want to encourage students to pursue studies in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), and this contest is one way we can show them cool things that can be done in these disciplines.”

The RCSP team, led by Huntsville-based Dynetics, is comprised of businesses, educational institutions and non-profit organizations. The team is competing in the Google Lunar X PRIZE, a $30 million competition that challenges space professionals and engineers from across the globe to build and launch to the Moon a privately funded spacecraft capable of completing a series of exploration and transmission tasks. Headquartered in Huntsville, the team’s members are all either based in Alabama or have a presence in the state. The Rocket City group is among 26 teams from all over the world that are registered in the competition.

The team is developing a low-cost lunar lander/rover system for conducting commercial and scientific missions on the Moon and potentially other planetary bodies. The lander/rover system is capable of making a soft landing on a planetary body and deploying a rover. The Rocket City Space Pioneers are asking fourth-grade students in Alabama public schools to choose a name for their lander.

Dynetics President Tom Baumbach explained the importance of education outreach and STEM to the company leading the Rocket City Space Pioneers:  “I’ve observed over the 44 years of my engineering career that a majority of the truly productive technical people I’ve worked with had a strong vision of their profession that started when they were 10 or 11 years old. That’s when we need to capture the imagination of our young students and let them feel the beginnings of passion that can serve them their entire life.

“It was reinforced when I worked at Bell Telephone Labs in the late 60s – they expected that you’d do your best work before you turned 30! That’s why Dynetics is so thoroughly committed to STEM and why we’re excited to have the fourth graders in Alabama name our lander – we hope it will stimulate the very age group that will be the start of our next generation of scientists and engineers.”

Through the Name the Lander contest, students will learn about Moon landers through a lesson plan developed by Space Camp and fun activity sheets. Fourth-grade teachers will have an opportunity to submit their respective class’ suggested name through an online registration system. The registration period for the contest is Jan. 31- Feb. 15, 2012.  The contest period is Feb. 15 – Feb. 23, 2012.  The winning name will be selected in early March.

Dr. Tommy Bice, State Superintendent of Education, said, “We are very excited to be a part of this challenging competition. Alabama’s students are focusing on math and science more intensely as part of STEM education initiatives. This contest will help to encourage their knowledge of the science and engineering that is required for space exploration.”

For more information about the Rocket City Space Pioneers, go to www.rocketcityspacepioneers.com.