Constellations, Launch, New Space and more…

Space Florida and Zero Gravity Launch Research and Education Center

By Doug Messier
Parabolic Arc
March 20, 2007
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Cape Canaveral, FL – March 19, 2007 – Space Florida, the new state agency charged with promoting Florida’s space industry, and Zero Gravity Corporation, announces the creation of the Florida Microgravity Education and Research Center, designed to facilitate Florida teacher and student space education and aerospace microgravity research expertise. The center will be the first-of-its kind by any state in providing the breadth and depth of academic and research capability to perform microgravity research and education programs.

To mark the start of the Center’s operations, a zero-gravity demonstration flight was held from the Shuttle Landing Facility at the Kennedy Space Center in Central Florida. The flight included eight teachers from Brevard, Broward, Duval, Highlands, Santa Rosa and Seminole counties, and students (four in total) who ranged in age from 14 to 16.

The teachers and students were joined by Steve Koehler, President and Chief Executive Officer, Space Florida; Jeanine Blomberg, Interim Commissioner of Education, State of Florida; Monesia Brown, Head of the Agency for Workforce Innovation; John Adams, President of Enterprise Florida; and Dr. Peter H. Diamandis, Chief Executive and Co-Founder, Zero Gravity Corporation.

“Our launch of the Florida Microgravity Education and Research Center, jointly with Zero Gravity Corporation, reinforces Florida’s position as a key player in the space industry. We are working with ZERO-G to reach thousands of teachers and create a comprehensive and innovative program that both promotes space education and attracts more commercial and government aerospace activities to the state,” said Steve Kohler, president and chief executive officer, Space Florida.

“Florida is mile-marker one to the Moon and Mars. We are pleased and proud to partner with Space Florida to develop a truly meaningful program for teachers, students and researchers that continues to drive personal spaceflight and education forward,” said Dr. Peter H. Diamandis, chief executive and co-founder, Zero Gravity Corporation.

Among the goals of the new Florida Microgravity Education and Research Center are broad outreach activities among Florida K-20 educators and students, including a first-ever student ZERO-G program; the creation of education materials to be available state-wide; the administration of an annual professional development workshop program for teachers incorporating weightless flights; and a statewide student engineering competition. Once the center’s mission and structure is in place, it hopes to reach approximately 8,000 teachers and 80,000 students annually through microgravity flights and workshops, as well as, online curricula, downloadable materials, and its professional development programs.

“Ever since third grade, I have wanted to become an astronaut and the first woman to go to Mars,” stated Garima Gupta. The ZERO-G experience was incredible and has brought me closer to that goal. It’s so amazing that we are the first 9th grade students to have such an opportunity. This will help in further promoting the fields of science and technology.”

Florida teachers are no strangers to microgravity and lead the nation in such flight experiences. More than 75 teachers from the state of Florida – more than any other state – have participated in ZERO-G pilot programs and last year’s Northrop Grumman Weightless Flights of Discovery – a nationwide, professional development program that sought to inspire science careers for students by conducting teacher professional development that incorporated weightless flights. The program helped lay the foundation and demand for the new Space Florida / Zero Gravity Corp. initiative.

In addition to the new center, Florida will also serve as the host site for the historical zero-gravity flight planned with world renowned physicist and microgravity expert, Professor Stephen Hawking on April 26, 2007. The flight is expected to further raise the state’s profile as a leader in space tourism and education.

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