BANGOR, Maine — The Challenger Center for Space Science Education announced that shuttle mission STS-134 carried the names of 4,496 Challenger Learning Center alumni and other students. STS-134 is the last flight of the space shuttle Endeavour and the penultimate flight of NASA’s space shuttle program.
The mission also carried digital copies of “Silver Linings, My Life Before and After Challenger 7,” the autobiography of Dr. June Scobee Rodgers, widow of Dick Scobee, commander of the Challenger Space Shuttle and founding chairman of Challenger Center’s board of directors. STS-134 is carrying digital copies of the first two books in the Star Challengers series of young adult science fiction that Scobee Rodgers co-launched to popularize space science and the CLCs.
“We’re deeply moved by NASA’s tribute to Challenger Center’s quarter-of-a-century legacy of making space science real for children,” said Daniel Barstow, president of Challenger Center. “Over 4 million students have flown simulated ‘space missions’ at Challenger Learning centers across the nation. The inspiration and hands-on learning they received inspired and helped prepare them for space missions and science, engineering and technology careers. Now, the names of many of our alumni are flying on STS-134. One day, some will soar into space themselves on their own missions to explore and gain new knowledge.” This has extra poignancy, since the Endeavour shuttle was built to replace the Challenger shuttle.
The non-profit Challenger Center for Space Science Education was founded in 1986 to honor the educational mission of the seven fallen astronauts of STS-51-L who flew aboard the Challenger shuttle. With the ongoing support of the astronauts’ families, NASA, the business community, leading scientists, educators and the nation, Challenger Center, the nation’s premier provider of science education and career inspiration, continues to play an essential leadership role in providing STEM — science, technology, engineering and mathematics— education. Its nationwide network of CLCs has engaged more than 4 million students in simulated missions to the moon, Mars, Halley’s Comet and the asteroids, as well as in space-themed learning experiences.
Thousands of students volunteered their names as part of an initiative approved by NASA and conducted last fall by Challenger Center on its web site and through its 48 CLCs, offering to fly students’ names into space. Students also submitted hundreds of images of themselves, often in the “mission” rooms of their CLCs and with CLC staff members. The names and images were transferred onto a DVD and placed aboard Endeavour for the flight.
“These children have been infused with the passion and curiosity for discovery,” said Barstow. “One of America’s most important missions is to educate students for leadership in science, innovation and space exploration.”
“I dedicated the Star Challenger series to the CLC flight directors, teachers and astronauts who every day inspire young people to excel and achieve,” said Scobee Rodgers. “It’s fitting that tomorrow’s leaders, scientists and astronauts should have their names floating in space today. We must not only keep alive the dreams of our children, we must also make them real.”
Scobee Rodgers will visit Bangor on June 24 as a special guest at the Challenger Learning Center of Maine’s fourth annual Astronauts Ball. She will sign copies of her book, “Silver Linings,” as part of Challenger Center’s fundraising event. Astronaut Rick Hauck also will attend the ball.
For information on Challenger Center of Maine, call 990-2900 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.