Press Releases

Challenger Center Teams with Association of Space Explorers to Inspire Students in STEM Education

Partnership enables individual Challenger Learning Centers to “Adopt an Astronaut”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Challenger Center for Space Science Education (Challenger Center) and the Association of Space Explorers (ASE) recently signed a memorandum of understanding for a one-year pilot program that will give former astronauts the opportunity to directly influence students in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) subjects.

Challenger Center will work with ASE, the only professional organization for astronauts, to match participating members with specific Challenger Learning Centers to become the Center’s official astronaut. The designated astronaut(s) will make appearances at their Center, participate in events and online video chats with students, and work with both Challenger Center and ASE to host a joint fundraising activity. Astronauts will be matched based on proximity to interested Challenger Learning Centers.

“Challenger Center and the ASE’s educational missions both emphasize the importance of inspiring students in STEM subject areas,” said Lance Bush, president and CEO, Challenger Center. “While our space simulations engage students in dynamic, hands-on learning opportunities, having the chance to liaise directly with a former astronaut takes our interactive educational outreach to an exciting new level. Hearing first-hand about how STEM studies truly make a difference is going to allow us to deepen our impact to students around the globe.”

“ASE seeks to inspire in students a life-long commitment to educational excellence,” said Andy Turnage, executive director, ASE. “Through this partnership with Challenger Center, our astronauts will be able to share their knowledge and experiences with the next generation of world leaders.”

The partnership between Challenger Center and ASE will be in effect immediately, and Challenger Center and ASE have already started matching ASE members with interested Centers. The goal is to have three or four Challenger Learning Centers participate in the pilot program.

About Challenger Center for Space Science Education (Challenger Center)
As a leader in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education, Challenger Center and its international network of more than 40 Challenger Learning Centers use space simulations to engage students in dynamic, hands-on opportunities. These experiences strengthen knowledge in STEM subjects and inspire students to pursue careers in these important fields. Centers across the US, Canada, United Kingdom, and South Korea reach hundreds of thousands of students each year. Founded in 1986, Challenger Center was created to honor the crew of shuttle flight STS-51-L: Dick Scobee, Gregory Jarvis, Christa McAuliffe, Ronald McNair, Ellison Onizuka, Judith Resnik, and Michael J. Smith. Learn more about Challenger Center at and connect with us on, and

About the Association of Space Explorers (ASE)
As the only professional association for space fliers, the ASE mission is to apply the unique perspective of its members to promote the global benefits of space science, exploration and international cooperation; to educate and inspire future generations; and to foster better stewardship of our home planet. ASE works closely with other space organizations to expand and invigorate international dialogue on such issues as crew safety, operational compatibility, and the potential hazards of near earth objects. ASE regularly sponsors international discussions among astronauts and cosmonauts on space flight operations. For more information, visit

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