Category Archives: Spaceflight & Parabolic Flight

Citizens in Space selects Greg Kennedy as astronaut candidate

An announcement from Citizens in Space:

Citizens in Space, a project of the United States Rocket Academy, has announced the selection of its fifth citizen-astronaut candidate.

Informal educator and aerospace historian Greg Kennedy will join four other citizen-astronaut candidates who are training to fly as payload operators on the Lynx spacecraft, currently under construction by XCOR Aerospace in Mojave, CA. XCOR expects to begin Lynx test flights later this year.

“We are pleased to welcome Greg to our astronaut group, “ said Edward Wright, citizen-astronaut candidate and project manager for Citizens in Space. “His experience and skills will help to strengthen our program and expand our outreach in new directions.”

Greg Kennedy is currently director of education at NASTAR Center, a leading provider of spaceflight training for commercial vehicles, in Southampton, Pennsylvania. Previously, he was associate curator for manned spaceflight at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC; director of the Frontiers of Flight Museum in Dallas, Texas; founding director of the American Airlines C.R. Smith Museum in Fort Worth; executive director of the Space Center in Alamogordo, New Mexico; executive director of the Mid Atlantic Air Museum in Liberal, Kansas; and executive director of the American Helicopter Museum in West Chester, Pennsylvania.

“I am proud to join this program, which is providing everyday citizens with ground-breaking opportunities to participate in space science and space exploration,“ said Greg Kennedy.

Kennedy is a noted aerospace historian whose books include Touching Space: The Story of Project Manhigh, Apollo to the Moon, The First Men in Space, Rockets and Missiles of White Sands Proving Ground, and Vengeance Weapon Two: Germany’s V-2 Rocket. He was also a co-author of The Space Shuttle Operator’s Manual and Rockets, Missiles, and Spacecraft of the National Air and Space Museum.

Kennedy is a qualified spacesuit technician and commercial spaceflight instructor. At NASTAR Center, he conducts training for commercial spaceflight participants and suborbital scientists, along with various workshops and summer-camp programs which he has created for teachers and students.

Citizens in Space was originally known as “Teachers in Space.” Lt. Col. Steve Heck, a retired Air Force pilot and science teacher from Milford, Ohio was one of the first astronaut candidates to be recruited. “In 2012, the program was renamed and expanded to include a broader range of participants, including informal educators, university students, hardware hackers and science hobbyists,” Heck said. “Greg Kennedy represents our first outreach to the informal-education community. Today’s announcement is only a taste of things to come.”

Citizens in Space has purchased 10 flights on the XCOR Lynx spacecraft. To fill those flights, Citizens in Space is seeking 100 citizen-science experiments and 10 citizen astronauts to fly as payload operators.

Current citizen-astronaut candidates include Greg Kennedy; Maureen Adams, an elementary-school teacher and principle from Killeen, Texas; Michael Johnson, an aviation instructor from Dallas, Texas; Lt. Col. Steve Heck (USAF-ret.), and Edward Wright.

Greg Kennedy

Students study fire in microgravity on parabolic flight

Students at Univ. of California at San Diego carried out experiments on combustion and flame in weightlessness while riding on a NASA plane flying parabolic trajectories:

This article describes the odd behavior of flames in microgravity:  Strange Flames on the ISS – NASA Science. This video, seen also in this earlier post, is about the “strange, cool-burning form of fire”:




Charles Simonyi at the Kansas Cosmosphere

Billionaire Charles Simonyi, who flew twice to the ISS at his own expense (see Charles in Space), visits the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center in Hutchinson, Kansas and there is a lot of mutual admiration :  Kansas Cosmosphere impresses visiting billionaire space tourist – Wichita Eagle.

The next-gen Teachers in Space

Ed Wright of Citizens in Space gives the background to various programs aimed at sending teachers and other educators into space and lays out his organization’s plans for the future: Teachers in Space: The Next Generation –

Citizens in Space continues to expand and grow. We have not abandoned the original goals of Teachers in Space, nor have we “split” the program or transferred any part of the program to another organization. We still hope to enable a large number of teachers to fly in space and return to the classroom, along with people from every walk of life.

There are other organizations that have the goal of flying teachers in space. The Challenger Center for Space Science Education has acquired two seats on a Virgin Galactic flight for teachers. Virgin Galactic has also donated a seat to the Royal Air Force for a British teacher. So far, however, we are the only organization that has purchased a significant block of flights and initiated a training program for citizen astronauts. We hope we will not be alone much longer. Regardless of what other organizations do, however, our path is clear. As President Reagan said, our hopes and journeys will continue.