Alexandria, VA – “I touch the future; I teach” are the inspiring words often quoted by our nation’s first Teacher-in-Space, Christa McAuliffe. Challenger Center for Space Science Education is thrilled to see Christa’s dreams fulfilled by former science and math teachers Joe Acaba and Ricky Arnold who are now officially “Educator Astronauts” in orbit around the Earth and successfully docked to the International Space Station.

The primary objective of this 28th mission to the International Space Station is to deliver the final set of solar array wings and truss elements that are needed to complete the station’s electricity generating systems. Teacher-turned-astronaut Acaba will conduct two spacewalks helping with the installation of the space station components. Teacher-turned-astronaut Arnold will help to install equipment provided by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency.

“Space is a great hook for educators around the globe to engage students in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics curriculum. That’s what happens every day at Challenger Learning Centers!” says Dr. June Scobee Rodgers, Founding Chairman of Challenger Center for Space Science Education. In the 23 years since its founding this program has grown to a network of over 50 Challenger Learning Centers that has collectively engaged and inspired over 8 million students, taking them on simulated space missions to Earth orbit, the Moon, Mars and beyond.

Students at Challenger Learning Centers around the world join together to learn about and witness these heroic teachers as they help to complete the construction of the International Space Station. Challenger Learning Centers across the country will host educational programs featuring lessons about Earth and space exploration, space suit design and mapping locations for wind, solar and other alternative sources of energy. Find your local Challenger Learning Center at to learn more about specific program offerings.

Daniel Barstow, President of Challenger Center for Space Science Education, says “The Space program helps to invigorate science education by combining hands on learning with the thrill of exploration and discovery. Teachers have the innate ability to breakdown these complex subjects and present them in an understandable and inspiring way. Educator Astronauts Acaba and Arnold’s mission follows in the footsteps of Barbara Morgan’s successes on STS118 and serves as a reminder of the awesome role that educators play in our lives.”

Educational resources including curriculum, podcasts and biographies about the Educator Astronauts are available at and

Challenger Center for Space Science Education was founded in 1986 by the families of the astronauts of the space shuttle Challenger 51-L mission and is dedicated to the educational spirit of that mission. Challenger Learning Center programs at 50 centers continue the crew’s mission of engaging teachers and students in science, mathematics, engineering and technology. To locate a Challenger Learning Center near you, visit

For Challenger Center information, please contact:

Alan Landever, Vice President for Network Support
Challenger Center for Space Science Education, Alexandria, VA
(816) 802-2202;