We have a launch date. On June 21, 2013, student experiments from Camino Real Middle School, La Academia De Delores Huerta and New Mexico State University will be among the five schools with experiments headed to space from Spaceport America. We had a year-long delay on this flight because of a licensing issue. New Mexico Space Grant and NASA have been major investors in the program that bought the rocket and supported the education program to provide annual access to space for student experiments. NASA wanted to expand their support through the Flight Opportunities Program, to enable more flights from the spaceport. And that’s when it happened. A short term delay turned into more a twelve month delay.
The experiments on the rocket were built by the students and teachers eight months ago. The delay caused a loss in momentum with the public school students and teachers. A year in the life of a fifteen year old student is equal to about eighteen months relatively speaking. It’s a long time for a student to stay involved when there is nothing happening. As of right now, there is one physics class at Hot Spring High School that teaches designing, building, flying and analyzing experiments going to and coming back from space. But that is going to change soon in Las Cruces. The Las Cruces Public School District has begun to design new science curriculum and student experiments will be part of the design. This is part of the long term vision for space education. Provide annual access to space for student experiments. Why do we want to send experiments to space?
It is graduation season. Families are planning graduation celebrations all over the country. These are achievements of students, teachers, and administrators. These celebrations are a testament to belief in the future. Our future. Does our public education system prepare students to run this country? Can a representative democracy’s education system prepare its citizens to solve problems we can’t even anticipate? One way we prepare our country and our students for a challenging future is to take on big problems like human commercial space transportation. No nation on this earth is investing in a future that includes sending humans to space from a commercial spaceport on a privately designed, built and recently successfully tested spaceship. One state has invested and it’s New Mexico.
If you are lucky, your graduation ceremony will include a talk about graduation as the beginning of a great adventure. And if you are in the audience, look around. Ask yourself, how many of these kids did something extraordinary this year? So why send student experiments to space? Because all of us have to do something extraordinary at least once a year. It may be playing a solo at a concert, acting in a play, winning a science fair competition or playing in a winning basketball game. A good graduation speech should inspire. A great education should include one great achievement for every student at least once a year. The achievement has to be tough. How come? Achievement is addictive.
It is tough to get to space. That’s why we haven’t done much of it. Sixty eight schools, and hundreds of students did something extra ordinary in the last four years, they sent experiments to space. We are back on track.
Our state did something extraordinary last week. We signed SpaceX to be a tenant at Spaceport America. SpaceX is the private company that just docket with the International Space Station. Ah, that’s a big achievement. It’s never been done by a privately held U.S. company. In less than two weeks, two private companies have made stunning achievements part of the New Mexico future. This is truly a New Mexico First week. Virgin Galactic successfully fired the rocket motor on the SpaceShip2 which will operate from Spaceport America. And SpaceX signed a three year tenant agreement with New Mexico to test their vertical take off, vertical landing vehicle “Grasshopper” at our spaceport. Our students launch their experiments from the verticle launch area at the spaceport.
There are many bumps in a road not traveled. Getting to space is a road traveled 6 times for our students. The seventh is coming up. We are almost there. The rocket company, Up Aerospace, was started by Jerry Larson. Jerry has been interested in building and launching rockets for twenty eight years. He has many stories to tell about achievement. Join us on June 21. Register at www.launchnm.com