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Local students headed to Florida to watch SpaceX launch

by UM News Service
| September 28, 2022 12:00 AM

The spectrUM Discovery Area of the University of Montana, in partnership with the Boys and Girls Club of Flathead Reservation and Lake County, has been selected to participate in a program that will bring 48 middle school students from the Flathead Reservation to the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, to view the launch of the SpaceX Crew-5 Mission on Monday, Oct. 3.

The American Institute for Aeronautics and Astronautics has announced Students To Launch, a new national science, technology, engineering and math education initiative to engage underserved and underrepresented students in challenges, inspiration and spaceflight opportunities.

“As a NASA Community Anchor, the spectrUM Discovery Area was thrilled to be selected to participate as one of the first Students to Launch hub sites,” said spectrUM Director Jessie Herbert-Meny. “We are in the business of inspiring Montanans students about higher education and careers in STEM, and this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to connect students from the Boys and Girls Club of the Flathead Reservation with NASA’s missions and careers in aerospace.”

Students To Launch (S2L) invites students across the country to participate in NASA mission-inspired activities hosted by science centers, museums and other informal afterschool programs. Students who complete S2L activities are eligible for the full-scale experience of witnessing a space launch in person to learn about a wide spectrum of space missions, meeting aerospace professionals, including astronauts, and imagining a future for themselves working in the space industry.

In August, spectrUM served as an S2L hub site and hosted a program for students from the Flathead Reservation. Middle school students in Polson and Ronan built and launched their own water rockets. Students also met with John Herrington, the first Native American astronaut, who came to the Boys and Girls Club sites to share his experience and path into an aerospace career. These students will now have the opportunity to witness the Crew-5 Launch, which will bring four astronauts to the International Space Station, including Naomi Mann, NASA’s first Indigenous woman in space.

Students to Launch is offered through unique cooperation and collaboration between NASA, founding sponsor AIAA, Griffin Communications Group, First Light Ventures and Oregon State University. Students from Montana, Florida and Texas were the first to participate in this program. In Montana, S&K Technologies also is supporting student transportation to and from the airport. Students will fly to Florida on Sept. 30 and return Oct. 4.

For more information, call spectrUM’s Director Jessie Herbert-Meny at 406-207-1010. SpectrUM’s main location at the new Missoula Public Library is open 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Admission is free.