Keep Your EYES On Your Six!

Bonita, California (August 17, 2014) by Maria Catalina.

On October 8, 2007 I took the Northrop Grumman Weightless Flight of Discovery and something inside of me changed forever. I began to relive a feeling I had decades earlier, in junior high school, when an Eagle landed on the Moon and I heard the first words spoken from the lunar surface by Buzz Aldrin: “Contact Light”. I wanted all teachers to have the Zero G experience in order to make a much needed shift in education and inspire the desire to learn. In my search, I found the Teachers in Space program (now called Citizens in Space) run by Ed Wright and associated with the Space Frontier Foundation. Wanting to volunteer, Ed told me that I could help staff their exhibit booth at the X Prize Cup.

A week later California caught on fire and I could actually see the flames from my back door. Schools were closed so I packed my house and put everything in storage like a million other Californians. I called Ed to say I would be there, and set out for Holloman Air Force Base located adjacent to the home of my maternal ancestors, the Mescalero Apache Reservation, where I would stay with my grandfather.

It was at the X Prize Cup that I first heard of the Google Lunar X Prize and I knew right there that my middle school students could build a rover to land on the Moon. Fast forward to June 19, 2009, the first meeting of New Space (Space Frontier Foundation annual meeting) held at NASA Ames. There I met Kevin Myrick of Interplanetary Ventures who had partnered with Nebojsa Stanojevic (Neb) of the Human Synergy Project to become founders of the official Google Lunar X Prize Team Synergy Moon.

I had started the Astronaut Teacher Alliance to work with teachers around the world who were teaching Earth’s first space generation so I added Team Synergy Moon to my exhibits at space related museums and conferences and included the Team as part of the Broader Impacts of the work. I especially enjoy working with Emir Tanovic (Tana) on rover issues as well as our program involving the ISS EarthKAM. Last year, almost exactly four years later, I took a turn to Lead the team and we have accomplished a lot including the technical advances and indeed in terms of outreach, thousands more have heard of the GLXP and become inspired about the industrialization of cis-lunar space and beyond to Mars.

From all these experiences, the Astronaut Teacher Alliance had an open house to pull in community support for the Buzz Aldrin Innovation Institute (BAii) in Chula Vista, CA. We have since partnered with Space Micro and are growing fast. As such, it is time for me to focus of the development of the BAii.

Now, nearing the end of the GLXP competition, it is time for an orbital rendezvous and it is NEB who has docked. Co-founder Kevin, our first team lead, brought us up to speed at the start of the competition. Since then, several of us have had our hand at it and now, Neb will take us through the home stretch. It is still anyone’s game and given that we have the most diversified team in the GLXP, it should be noted by those who are “perceived” to be ahead of the other teams, don’t take your EYES off your six!

Empower Youth and Engage a Space generation

See You Soon, On The Moon!

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