Sunjammer Mission Expands Education Effort

Sunjammer Mission Educatin Director Bryan Weber talks to students about the program. (Credit: Sunjammer Mission)
Sunjammer Mission Education Director Bryan Weber talks to students about the program. (Credit: Sunjammer Mission)

Tustin, Calif. (Sunjammer Mission PR) — Twelve students from Palm Middle School in Moreno Valley, Calif., joined the engineers and scientists at L’Garde, Inc. to present on solar sails and learn about NASA’s Sunjammer mission as part of its new Learning Center initiative, a program to engage students worldwide in the future of space travel.

L’Garde, Inc. (Tustin, CA) is the lead contractor developing the world’s largest solar sail, Sunjammer, slated to launch in January 2015. The mission is NASA’s first solar sail voyage to deep space and will monitor key solar activity as well as carry a public “Cosmic Archive” of human perspectives including names, messages, photographs, and videos contributed by the public for future generations to discover.

Science teacher Elaine Cass and her students from Palm Middle School’s Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) program, contributed their own work for the Cosmic Archive and will explore the many possibilities for propellant-less space flight as the first participants in this interactive and interdisciplinary global education program.

“Sunjammer is an ideal platform for inspiring students across all curricula,” said Charles M. Chafer, CEO of Space Services Holdings, Inc. (Houston, CA), the education and public outreach partner for the mission. “We are excited to have the students from Palm Middle School witness, first-hand, the construction of this great sailing vessel and to welcome them aboard the Sunjammer Cosmic Archive” said Nathan Barnes, President of L’Garde, Inc.

Palm Middle School students stand in front of a model of Sunjammer. (Credit: Sunjammer Mission)
Palm Middle School students stand in front of a model of Sunjammer. (Credit: Sunjammer Mission)

Students will follow the mission on the Sunjammer Learning Center website, which launches this month and will include a variety of educational content including videos, blogs, and student contests. “Central to the Learning Center is the idea that space travel is not simply a project for aspiring engineers and astronomers,” said Bryan Weber, education director for Sunjammer. “Rather, the future of space travel is dependent on students from all fields – artists, writers, historians, policymakers, and of course scientists – who understand the importance of these types of scientific endeavors. The Learning Center is a place for young people around the world to meet, learn, and build that future.”

About Space Services, Inc.

Space Services Holdings is the exclusive commercial infusion partner for Sunjammer solar sail mission, providing opportunities for mission sponsorship; developing and operating the mission website; and conducting – in partnership with NASA and selected partners – an extensive education and public outreach campaign for the mission.

For more than 30 years Houston, Texas-based Space Services Holdings, Inc. and its heritage company Space Services Inc. of America have been recognized as the true pioneers of the commercial space industry. In 1982, Space Services – under the direction of legendary Mercury astronaut Donald K. “Deke” Slayton – conducted the first privately funded launch into space, establishing the business, legal, and regulatory framework for today’s commercial industry.

In 1997, SSHI’s subsidiary Celestis, Inc. conducted the first ever Memorial Spaceflight, launching a symbolic portion of the cremated remains of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry, 60s icon Timothy Leary, and 22 others from around the globe into Earth orbit. Since then Celestis has conducted 10 additional Memorial Spaceflight missions, and placing more than 1000 flight capsules – including Mercury astronaut L. Gordon Cooper, and Star Trek actor James Doohan – into outer space. In 1999 NASA asked Celestis to assist them in honoring Dr. Eugene Shoemaker by making him the first person “buried” on the moon on the Lunar Prospector mission.

Today, SSHI is developing commercial space weather technologies and systems to deliver timely, accurate forecasts and warnings for solar storms. Through a series of contracts funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and its own resources, SSHI has created, and is executing, a focused business plan to meet global space weather data and information needs.

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L’Garde aims to be a world leader in the development of inflatable and deployable structures for terrestrial and space applications. L’Garde is focused on providing agile and responsive research and development services to its customers.

L’Garde was founded in 1971 in Orange County, CA to support ballistic missile defense through the development and manufacture of inflatable targets and decoy systems. Since that time L’Garde has developed a wealth of knowledge about deployable space systems that include targets and countermeasures, deployable space antennas, in-space propulsion, deployable space structures, and deployable terrestrial systems. L’Garde has placed more than 150 objects in space.

L’Garde’s capabilities embrace deployable antennas, space propulsion, space structures, and missile defense targets and countermeasures.

With the Sunjammer Solar Sail Technology Demonstration Mission (TDM), L’Garde will advance the state of the art of solar sailing. The end goal of this mission is the deployment, flight, and navigation of a mission capable solar sail to demonstrably prove the efficacy of solar sails. This proposed mission will definitively advance the technology of solar sailing for use by future mission planners.

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