Category Archives: Space participation

DreamUp as PBC aims to lower barriers to student research in space

The company NanoRacks, which supports scientific experiments on the Int. Space Station and launches CubeSats from the station as well, has announced that it will spin off its DreamUp education program into a Public Benefit Corporation: Space Education and Research Reaches New Heights: Announcing DreamUp, PBC –

Today, DreamUp is excited to announce that NanoRacks and its parent company, XO Markets, are creating a new company dedicated to lowering the barriers to student and university research: DreamUp, PBC.

As such, we join the ranks of Ben & Jerry and Kickstarter, just two of the growing number of companies that have been incorporated as a Public Benefit Corporation.

PBC’s are commercial organizations whose by-laws urge shareholders and management to do more than turn a profit: they also seek to undertake some public good in a series of defined mandates. Until now, in our society, companies must focus only on the bottom line. Benefit Corporations are different: they can and must do more for society.

For DreamUp, the goals are simple: we will strive to make space research a viable part of students and university researchers. We will seek to make crowdsourcing a far more efficient tool for space-based projects. And within a few short years we aim to have teachers and students from all fifty states and a dozen countries worldwide enjoy the benefits of real STEM experience via the unique environment of space.

Previously, DreamUp has stood as the educational arm of NanoRacks, the go-to company for commercial access to space. Explains Jeffrey Manber, the chairman of the board for XO Markets, “we realized the time has come to tap the expertise of a whole new set of dedicated professionals in order to leverage our existing foundation. We are proud of our educational partners and customers across the world that utilize DreamUp today. Now we are ready to take space-based education to a whole new level.”

DreamUp will continue to utilize the in-house experts to ensure DreamUp PBC continues to offer unprecedented opportunities for students, researchers, and innovators. To date, DreamUp and NanoRacks have launched over 200 unique educational payloads to the International Space Station.

Here is a video of a group of three students who will send an experiment to the ISS via DreamUp:

These plans also allow for DreamUp to focus further on crowdfunding efforts for space-based research. Crowdfunding has become an extremely popular method for funding research on the ground, as well as in-space research. Earlier this year, one of DreamUp’s teams experienced a successful crowdfunding campaign that will allow three high school sisters to achieve the dream of testing their plant growth chamber in microgravity. Using as the fund-raising platform, Chicks in Space reached their monetary goal with help from the public, the space community, friends, family and the DreamUp team. Currently the Chicks are getting the hardware ready for a 2016 test on the International Space Station. 

Winners of the Reach for the Stars National Rocket Competition honored by NAR, AIAA, Estes and Homer Hickam

An announcement from the Reach for the Stars organization:

NAR, AIAA, Estes and Homer Hickam Honor
Reach for the Stars – 
National Rocket Competition Winners at Space Camp

Three winners of the Reach for the Stars ~ National Rocket Competition: Kalli Riemer, Emily Schmidtlein and Maya Watson celebrated with their families at Space Camp in “Rocket City” Huntsville, Alabama. For the past 9 years – over 50 percent of the national winners have been girls!  Girl Scouts have taken an amazing seven national wins.


Contestants in the competition had to build and launch their own solid-fuel powered rocket. The competitions were held in their area by schools, scouts, youth groups and Challenger Learning Centers. The closest average landing by parachute to a target after two launches wins the local event. Local winner’s results are submitted to the national competition headquarters.

In response to the nations call for more interest in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) activities – nearly 2000 kids across the nation participated in the ninth annual Reach for the Stars ~ National Rocket Competition. At the end of the competition those who had the “Right Stuff”* were victorious. The annual Competition, for ages ten to eighteen, runs continuously. More information about this and the Astronaut Hall of Fame Event is available at .

The national winners launched their rockets in celebration under an “October Sky” from Homer Hickam Field.** Most of the competitors and many of the family and friends have read his inspirational book, Rocket Boys or seen the movie,October Sky. Competition director, Jack Colpas says, “Getting the opportunity to launch their rockets from an exciting location is an important part of the celebration.”

In addition to the launch, the kids were awarded a Space Shuttle Challenger commemorative coin and certificate that honor the memory of the first Teacher-in-Space, Christa McAuliffe and the crew of the Challenger. The certificates are signed by Captain Jon McBride, who piloted Challenger on one of its earliest missions. They also received an autographed photo and letter of congratulations from author, Homer Hickam. Estes – the world leader in educational rocketry provided $200 to help with travel expenses and a model rocket for each winner.

Presentation was made by Vince Huegele, educational chair for the National Association of Rocketry (NAR), Matt Green – Space Camp Operations, US Space & Rocket Center and G. Alan Lowrey – Regional Director, American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

Matt Green put the winners through their paces as they experienced the Astronaut Training Simulators at Space Camp. They took turns walking in the 1/6 gravity of the moon, moved about mock space in a MMU (Manned Maneuvering Unit) and tested their intestinal fortitude in the Spatial Disorientation Simulator. Alan Lowrey photographed the kids throughout the day. The pictures are available at

Then they got to tour the US Space & Rocket Center with their friends and families.Two teachers, Tina Hackey and Dennis O’Connell – whose efforts produced a national winner – joined in the celebration. The group gets to visit the Space Shuttle Simulator – Pathfinder, see the amazing display at Rocket and Shuttle Parks, the Apollo Courtyard and the Saturn V Hall. “The U.S. Space & Rocket Center (USSRC) is a Smithsonian Affiliate and the Official Visitor Center for NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center. The Center has one of the largest collections of rockets and space memorabilia anywhere in the world.” ( )

This is a fantastic opportunity for a young rocketeer. Reach for the Stars ~ National Rocket Competition directors Jack and Kathy Colpas boast, “National winners receive memories to last a lifetime – and bragging rights for generations to come.”

  • Kalli Riemer competed at Crystal River Primary School, in Crystal River, Florida under teacher, Christina Hackey.
  • Emily Schmidtlein joined in with her STEM Class at North Kansas City High School, N. Kansas City, Missouri in a competition run by Teacher, Dennis O’Connell.
  • Maya Watson launched during a STEM Summer Camp under the direction of Dr. Ellyn Savard of the Girl Scouts of Connecticut.
  • Alani Davidson won the honors with the Girl Scouts of Western Oklahoma with under Scout Leader, Chris Simon. Alani was unable to attend and will receive her award at a Girl Scout event in Oklahoma.

Model rocket manufacturer Estes, the world leader in educational rocketry, provided $200 in prize money to the top three national winners. The prize money is provided to help with travel expenses. Travel funding is crucial. These kids have earned the right to attend the national winners’ celebrations.

The U.S. Space & Rocket Center and Hampton Inn – Huntsville joined together to provide unforgettable memories for the national winners of the annual Reach for the Stars ~ National Rocket Competition. Tickets to Space Camp, plus discounted lodging and free breakfast are being provided for four winners and their families. Without the generosity of these companies, this winners’ celebration would not be possible.

Corporate sponsors are needed to ensure kids nationwide have the opportunity to compete. Sponsors receive national recognition and the satisfaction of Helping Kids Reach for the Stars.

Jack and Kathy Colpas, co-directors of the Reach for the Stars ~ National Rocket Competition are retired public school educators. “Our goal is to give kids the educational experience of building and launching a solid-fuel powered rocket. Our purpose is to foster an interest in model rocketry, STEM subjects and aeronautics. Our mission is to keep alive the memory of the first Teacher-in-Space, Christa McAuliffe.”


* Thomas Wolfe, The Right Stuff – (Farrar, Straus and Giroux) 1979

**Homer Hickam is the author of the memoir, Rocket Boys. which became the inspirational movie October Sky.

Seeds descended from the Apollo 14 “Moon Trees” to go to the lunar surface

UK space activist Phill Parker sent the following announcement to me about his latest project:

UK Man to Send Apollo 14 Moon Trees Back to the Moon in 2017 –
This Time to Land on the Moon!

Apollo 14 launched in the late afternoon of January 31, 1971 on what was to be the third US manned trip to the lunar surface. Five days later astronauts Alan Shepard and Edgar Mitchell landed in their Lunar Module “Antares” and walked on the Moon at the Fra Mauro region exploring “Cone Crater” while their colleague and fellow astronaut, Stuart Roosa, a former U.S. Forest Service smoke jumper, orbited above the Moon in the command module “Kitty Hawk”.

Packed in small containers in Roosa’s personal kit were hundreds of tree seeds, part of a joint NASA/USFS project. Upon return to Earth, the seeds were germinated by the US Forest Service. Known as the “Moon Trees“, the resulting seedlings were planted throughout the United States (often as part of the nation’s bicentennial in 1976) and some parts of the world. They stand as a tribute to astronaut Roosa and the Apollo program. [See NASA’s Moon Trees website.]

MoonSycamoreClick for larger image

The project began after Roosa was chosen for the Apollo 14 mission. Ed Cliff, Chief of the Forest Service, knew of Stuart Roosa from his days as a smoke jumper and contacted him about bringing seeds into space. Stan Krugman of the Forest Service was put in charge of the project and selected the seeds for the experiment. Seeds were chosen from five different types of trees: Loblolly Pine, Sycamore, Sweetgum, Redwood, and Douglas Fir. The seeds were classified and sorted, and control seeds were kept on Earth for later comparison.

Roosa carried about 400 – 500 seeds in his personal kit which stayed with him as he orbited the Moon in the command module “Kitty Hawk” in February, 1971. The seeds were then sent to the southern Forest Service station in Gulfport, Mississippi and to the western station in Placerville, California to attempt germination. Surprisingly, nearly all the seeds germinated successfully, and the Forest Service had some 420 to 450 seedlings after a few years (some from cuttings). Some of these were planted with their earth-bound counterparts as controls, (as would be expected, after over twenty years there is no discernible difference) but most were given away in 1975 and 1976 to many state forestry organizations to be planted as part of the nation’s bicentennial celebration.

1280px-The_Apollo_14_Prime_Crew_-_GPN-2000-001168Stuart Roosa, Alan Shepard, and Edgar Mitchell

Astronaut Stuart Roosa was born on 16 August 1933, in Durango, Colorado. He worked for the Forest Service in the early 1950’s as a smoke jumper fighting fires and later joined the US Air Force and became a test pilot. He was one of 19 people selected for the astronaut class of 1966 and was part of the astronaut support crew for Apollo 9. Following Apollo 14, Roosa was backup command module pilot for Apollo’s 16 and 17. He then worked on the Space Shuttle program until his retirement as a Colonel in the Air Force in 1976, the time when many of his trees were being planted.

Sadly, Stuart Roosa passed away in December, 1994. The Moon Trees continue to flourish, a living monument to our first visits to the Moon and a fitting memorial to Stuart Roosa.

Now, nearly 45 years later since the original Apollo 14 Moon Tree seeds were flown around the Moon, spaceflight enthusiast Phill Parker – from Newcastleunder- Lyme, Staffordshie,UK – is flying some more Moon Tree generational Sycamore seeds from the original Moon Tree seeds back to the Moon in 2017 aboard the Astrobotic Griffin Moon Mission One. This will act as a further tribute to astronaut Stuart Roosa and the US Apollo Project . But this time not just to orbit the Moon but to actually land them on the surface of the Moon for the first time in the lunar region called Lacus Mortis!

PhillParkersMoonSycamoreSeedsPhill Parker’s Apollo 14 Moon Tree Generational
Sycamore seeds that are set to be flown aboard the
Griffin lunar lander in 2017.

The Griffin unmanned lunar lander will be launched by a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida in 2017.



Phill Parker authored many Apollo manned lunar landing articles for the British Interplanetary Society in the 1960s-70s – several of which are cited in NASA’s official Apollo Bibliography and,additionally, founded the West European Space Colony Society in 1975 which later merged with the prestigious US National Space Society (NSS). He has produced many spaceflight exhibitions at museums in the UK and delivered over 750 talks on space missions across UK since 1964, as well as writing dozens of articles on spaceflight.

SpaceVR seeks crowd-funding for immersive 3D live views from the ISS Cupola

SpaceVR is a startup company developing

the world’s first virtual reality platform allowing users to #BeAnAstronaut and experience space firsthand from any mobile, desktop or virtual reality device. Through the use of 3D, 360-degree cameras, SpaceVR technology feeds livestream footage from the International Space Station’s (ISS) Cupola observatory module back to Earth so consumers can experience space travel in immersive 3D virtual reality. 

The company is currently in a crowd-funding campaign that has reached just over $70k towards a $100k goal and they have 7 days remaining: SpaceVR: Step into Space by SpaceVR — Kickstarter.

The Kickstarter funds would cover the costs for

flight certification, launch costs, and 2D 16K resolution footage that will be physically down-massed (returned from space) to Earth 2x per year.

Here is a video describing the project:

The goal is to use the Virtual Reality system to bring the space experience to many more people than those who have actually flown in space;

Being in space and looking down at the earth, astronauts are hit with an astounding reality: our planet is a tiny, fragile ball of life, “hanging in the void”, shielded and nourished by a paper-thin atmosphere. It’s a phenomenon known as the Overview Effect.

Space is the final frontier, and everybody should have a chance to be a part of exploring it and, in turn, being influenced by it—to experience the Overview Effect. There’s a lot of excitement about exploring space by the people, for the people, and we can’t do it without you. Together we can make the universe accessible to everyone, inspire the next generation of explorers and get people excited about STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) fields.

The more supporters we have, the more cool virtual reality experiences we’ll be able to capture in space. And when we get there, you won’t just be a bystander to history; you’ll feel like an active participant, standing side by side with the astronauts. We will all be explorers together.

Astronaut Tracy Caldwell Dyson enjoyed the Cupola module in person:


Lunar Mission One and Astrobotic will take put your “Footsteps on the Moon”

Lunar Mission One is a non-profit organization seeking to raise public funding for space science projects. Their primary space science goal is to put a robotic spacecraft on the south pole of the Moon in 2024 to investigate water and other resources there. A Kickstarter campaign in 2014 raised over $1M.

They have a number of public involvement initiatives programs underway. This week, for example, they opened the Footsteps on the Moon campaign in which you upload “a photo of your footprints, feet or shoes” that will be sent to the Moon on digital storage.


The transport to the Moon will be via Astrobotic‘s lunar lander mission: Lunar Mission One Signs Deal with Astrobotic

Astrobotic Technology Inc. and Lunar Missions Ltd, the company behind the global, inclusive, not-for- profit crowd-funded Lunar Mission One, have signed a deal to send the first digital storage payload to the Moon. The payload will support Lunar Mission One’s ‘Footsteps on the Moon’ campaign, launched earlier today, which invites millions of people to include their footsteps – in addition to images, video and music – in a digital archive of human life that will be placed on the moon during Astrobotic’s first lunar mission.

“The partnership with Lunar Mission One is an exciting opportunity for individuals to store memorable information on the surface of the Moon,” says John Thornton, CEO of Astrobotic. “This is the first step in creating an archive of human civilization beyond Earth orbit.”

David Iron, CEO of Lunar Missions Ltd and the founder of Lunar Mission One says, “It was an easy choice to partner with Astrobotic, a global leader in commercial lunar capability. This deal allows us to offer an exciting new way to connect our supporters to the Moon during the early phase of Lunar Mission One’s development. We look forward to unveiling those plans very soon.”

Lunar Mission One is the latest addition to Astrobotic’s mission one manifest, and will be the first payload to enable a digital archive on the Moon.

David Iron, the founder of Lunar Mission One, writes the organization and the Footsteps program: Lunar Mission One: “Let’s All Stand on the Moon Together” – David Iron/Huffington Post

Most people watching the Moon landings in 1969 thought they would never make it to the Moon… but it’s time for a re-think. The astronauts left their prints and the rest of us just dreamed, but Lunar Mission One now intends to make it possible with their Footsteps on the Moon project.

We have secured a digital payload on the Astrobotic Moon Lander, slated for a 2017 launch. On it, we want to take a vast collection of pictures of your footsteps, shoes, wheelchair tracks or however you leave your impression on the Earth, and place them on the Moon. And we will do that for nothing in the hopes that we can take images from every single country on Earth.

In digital form, your footsteps will rest on the Moon, like the iconic boot prints left by the first astronauts, almost 50 years ago.

Follow the latest LMO activities at Lunar Mission One (@LunarMissionOne) | Twitter.