Mission and History

Our nonprofit educational organization’s mission is to stimulate student interest in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) by offering teachers extraordinary space science experiences and industry connections. Our ultimate goal is to fly teachers regularly into space and return them to their classrooms to inspire their students.

We offer professional development opportunities to K-12 teachers in an effort to bring space science into the classroom and provide teachers with the means to inspire their students to pursue careers in Aerospace and other commercial space endeavors. We are directly working to help develop the pipeline from schools across the country into the growing commercial space sector.

We align ourselves with diversity and equity goals shared by NASA and the National Science Foundation to bring our STEM programs and resources to historically underrepresented populations and communities, as well as EPSCoR targeted jurisdictions. Teachers in Space recognizes broadening participation of diverse groups and institutions in STEM as a key strategic goal to developing the highest quality workforce and research initiatives.

Our professional development workshops for STEM teachers include hands-on work with data sensors and remote device control, personal and experimental flight opportunities, and unique teaching materials and design challenges to take back to the classroom. We also provide opportunities to meet and interact with scientists and developers at NASA and commercial space companies.

We spark a transfer of passion for space science and exploration from teachers to their students. Our goal is to encourage and prepare students to pursue further education and careers in the emerging space industry.

Christa McAuliffe

TIS is inspired by NASA’s Teacher in Space program, which chose Christa McAuliffe among over 11,000 applicants to be the first schoolteacher to train as an astronaut and fly missions on the space shuttle in 1984. However, the Teacher in Space program ended without completing its first mission when Space Shuttle Challenger tragically broke up during flight in 1986.  

By the time McAuliffe’s backup, Barbara Morgan, did fly in 2007, NASA had abandoned the idea of flying classroom teachers and returning them to their schools. As Morgan’s Shuttle commander, Scott Kelly, told a journalist, “I don’t have a teacher as a crew member. I have a crew member who used to be a teacher.”

Our Teachers in Space project was created to fulfill the promise of the original program. We already offer teachers authentic astronaut training and real space science experiences combined with information and resources to bring back to classrooms across America. Sponsored by NASA from 2010 to 2013 and by the Airbus Perlan Project from 2015 to 2016, TIS now offers workshops for teachers in suborbital astronautics, suborbital flight experiments, and includes an introduction to flight physiology.

Our teachers and their students have done numerous high-altitude balloon missions, helped test the first multipurpose commercial spacesuit on a parabolic flight over Ottawa, Canada, and flown experimental payloads on gliders in the US and Argentina.

Please visit our News page to learn more about our latest accomplishments. You may also contact us to join an existing workshop or flight opportunity or bring one to your community.