Category Archives: Spaceflight & Parabolic Flight

Challenger Center hosts Google+ Hangout with Virgin Galactic and Galactic Unite

A message from Challenger Center about yesterday’s Google+ Hangout with representatives from Virgin Galactic and Galactic Unite who answered questions from students at several Centers aropimd the US.

Challenger Center Partners with Virgin Galactic and Galactic Unite for Google+ Hangout
Virgin Galactic and Challenger Learning Center Students Fly to the Moon and Discuss Importance of STEM Education

WASHINGTON (December 3, 2013) – Today, Challenger Center, the Washington D.C.-based nonprofit science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education organization, hosted a Google+ Hangout with representatives from Virgin Galactic and Galactic Unite and several hundred students at Challenger Learning Centers around the country.

Hosted at the Columbia Memorial Space Center’s Challenger Learning Center, the hangout included students at the Challenger Learning Center of Louisville, KY, Challenger Learning Center of New Mexico – Unser Discovery Campus; Challenger Learning Center of Tallahassee; and University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Challenger STEM Learning Center.

“Today’s event was a perfect opportunity to give Challenger Learning Center students the chance to connect their classroom lessons and Challenger Center missions to the real world,” said Kathleen Meehan Coop, vice president of education, Challenger Center. “We are constantly finding new ways to excite students about STEM, and this was an exceptional opportunity. It was great to watch the students energized and engaged with the Virgin Galactic team.”

Throughout the hour long event, students learned more about Virgin Galactic’s efforts to become the world’s first commercial spaceline, what it is like to build and work on future space vehicles, and why STEM subjects are vital for future success. A recording of the event can be viewed at

“We are so excited to share our passion for space exploration with the next generation and to inspire them to write the next chapter of space history,” said George Whitesides, CEO, Virgin Galactic.

Several students at each of the Challenger Learning Center locations had the opportunity to ask the Virgin Galactic team questions. At the conclusion of the virtual event, the Virgin Galactic team participated in Challenger Center’s simulated “Return to the Moon” mission with the students in Downey, Calif.

Challenger Center is embarking on a renewed effort to reach even more students and help equip them for future success. In early 2014, the organization is launching revolutionary software and missions that will further improve its education offering. In addition, within the next two years, six new communities will open a Challenger Learning Center. Included in this expansion is the creation of a National STEM Innovation Center in Washington, DC.

About Challenger Center

Using space exploration as a theme and simulation as a vehicle, Challenger Center and its international network of more than 40 Challenger Learning Centers create positive educational experiences that raise students’ expectations of success, foster long-term interest in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), and inspire students to pursue studies and careers in these areas. Challenger Center’s network of Challenger Learning Centers across the U.S., Canada, the United Kingdom, and South Korea reach more than 400,000 students each year through simulated space missions and educational programs and engage more than 40,000 educators through missions, teacher workshops, and other programs. Founded in 1986, Challenger Center for Space Science Education was created to honor the seven astronauts of shuttle flight STS-51-L: Commander Dick Scobee, Gregory Jarvis, Christa McAuliffe, Ronald McNair, Ellison Onizuka, Judith Resnik, and Michael J. Smith. To learn more about Challenger Center visit

About Galactic Unite

Virgin Galactic and its Future Astronaut customers have teamed up with Virgin Unite, the nonprofit foundation of the Virgin Group, to make a difference in this new age of commercial space travel. Based on the fact that future generations will have opportunities to see the world as never before, Galactic Unite embraces the idea that new advances in science and technology have the potential to unlock answers to global challenges and change the world for the better. Galactic Unite is investing to help future generations make the most of these new advances in three ways: education, entrepreneurship and inspiration. By working together, the future astronauts of Galactic Unite will leverage their knowledge, their resources and their experience to make a positive impact on the world of tomorrow.

About Virgin Galactic

Virgin Galactic, owned by Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group and aabar Investments PJS, is on track to be the world’s first commercial spaceline. To date, the company has accepted nearly $80 million in deposits from approximately 640 individuals, approximately 10% more than the total number of people who have ever gone to space. The new spaceship (SpaceShipTwo, VSS Enterprise) and carrier craft (WhiteKnightTwo, VMS Eve) have both been developed for Virgin Galactic’s vehicle fleet by Mojave-based Scaled Composites. Founded by Burt Rutan, Scaled developed SpaceShipOne, which in 2004 claimed the $10 million Ansari X Prize as the world’s first privately developed manned spacecraft. Virgin Galactic’s new vehicles, which will be manufactured by The Spaceship Company in Mojave, CA, share much of the same basic design, but are being built to carry six customers, or the equivalent scientific research payload, on suborbital space flights. The vehicles will allow an out-of-the-seat, zero-gravity experience with astounding views of the planet from the black sky of space for tourist astronauts and a unique microgravity platform for researchers. The VSS Enterprise and VMS Eve test flight program is well under way, leading to Virgin Galactic commercial operations, which will be based at Spaceport America in New Mexico.

Arts Catalyst and the Republic of the Moon

The Arts Catalyst is a UK based program that sponsors interactions and exchanges between the arts and the science/technology worlds. They usually have a few space related projects in progress at a given time. For example, there is the Republic of the Moon exhibition in London:

It’s nearly four decades since humans walked on the Moon, but it now seems likely that we will return there this century – whether to mine for its minerals, as a ‘stepping stone’ to Mars, or simply to do scientific research. In a provocative pre-emptive action, a group of artists are declaring a Republic of the Moon here on Earth, to re-examine our relationship with our planet’s only natural satellite.

After two decades working with space dreamers from the European Space Agency to anarchist autonomous astronauts, The Arts Catalyst will transform Bargehouse into an Earth-based embassy for a Republic of the Moon, filled with artists’ fantastical imaginings. Presenting international artists including Liliane Lijn, Leonid Tishkov, Katie Paterson, Agnes Meyer Brandis, andWE COLONISED THE MOON, the exhibition combines personal encounters, DIY space plans, imaginary expeditions and new myths for the next space age.

Marking the start of its twentieth anniversary year, The Arts Catalyst will animate the exhibition with performances, workshops, music, talks, a pop-up moon shop bysuper/collider and playful protests against lunar exploitation.  A manifesto declaring the Moon a temporary autonomous zone, with responses from artists and scientists to novelist Tony White’s call to “occupy the Moon!” will be published in print and e-Book formats to coincide with the exhibition.

The artists in Republic of the Moon regard the Moon not as a resource to be exploited but as a heavenly body that belongs to us all. The exhibition asks: Who will be the first colonisers of the Moon? Perhaps it should be the artists.

Related items:

Here is a video from several years ago when a group of  “artists, dancers, film-makers and scientists” tried out various activities while experiencing weightlessness during parabolic trajectories on a Russian Ilyushin Il-76 : Attention Weightlessness

Attention Weightlesses from The Arts Catalyst on Vimeo.

Sarah Brightman prepares for space

Sarah Brightman describes her enthusiasm for space and her plans to go to the International Space Station in 2015: Sarah Brightman talks about her music, her tour and the biggest trip of her life –

Sierra Nevada has been developing their Dream Chaser spaceplane for several years. Mark Sirangelo of SNC has mentioned some interaction with Brightman’s Dream Chaser album and tour but I don’t know the extent of it.

Here is a video of the Moscow press conference in 2012 in which her ISS trip was announced:

Video: Latest trailer for “Gravity”

Just a guess, but the movie Gravity appears to be about a bad day at the ISS:  New Gravity trailer will leave you breathless – io9

Update: Here is a review of the movie after its showing at the Venice film festival: SciFi Film Review: Gravity: Critics Call Alfonso Cuaron’s Space Adventure a Masterpiece – Moonandback.