First-of-its-Kind Initiative to Bolster Florida's Leadership in the Space Education and Aerospace Landscape
Florida Teachers, Students and Key State Leaders Soar into the Future of Space Education on Demonstration Microgravity Flight
Cape Canaveral, FL - March 19, 2007 - Space Florida, the new state agency charged with promoting Florida's space industry, and Zero Gravity Corporation (ZERO-G(R)), announces the creation of the Florida Microgravity Education and Research Center, designed to facilitate Florida teacher and student space education and aerospace microgravity research expertise. The center will be the first-of-its kind by any state in providing the breadth and depth of academic and research capability to perform microgravity research and education programs.
To mark the start of the Center's operations, a zero-gravity demonstration flight was held from the Shuttle Landing Facility at the Kennedy Space Center in Central Florida. The flight included eight teachers from Brevard, Broward, Duval, Highlands, Santa Rosa and Seminole counties, and students (four in total) who ranged in age from 14 to 16. The teachers and students were joined by Steve Koehler, President and Chief Executive Officer, Space Florida; Jeanine Blomberg, Interim Commissioner of Education, State of Florida; Monesia Brown, Head of the Agency for Workforce Innovation; John Adams, President of Enterprise Florida; and Dr. Peter H. Diamandis, Chief Executive and Co-Founder, Zero Gravity Corporation.
"Our launch of the Florida Microgravity Education and Research Center, jointly with Zero Gravity Corporation, reinforces Florida's position as a key player in the space industry. We are working with ZERO-G to reach thousands of teachers and create a comprehensive and innovative program that both promotes space education and attracts more commercial and government aerospace activities to the state," said Steve Kohler, president and chief executive officer, Space Florida.
"Florida is mile-marker one to the Moon and Mars. We are pleased and proud to partner with Space Florida to develop a truly meaningful program for teachers, students and researchers that continues to drive personal spaceflight and education forward," said Dr. Peter H. Diamandis, chief executive and co-founder, Zero Gravity Corporation.
Among the goals of the new Florida Microgravity Education and Research Center are broad outreach activities among Florida K-20 educators and students, including a first-ever student ZERO-G program; the creation of education materials to be available state-wide; the administration of an annual professional development workshop program for teachers incorporating weightless flights; and a statewide student engineering competition. Once the center's mission and structure is in place, it hopes to reach approximately 8,000 teachers and 80,000 students annually through microgravity flights and workshops, as well as, online curricula, downloadable materials, and its professional development programs.
"Ever since third grade, I have wanted to become an astronaut and the first woman to go to Mars," stated Garima Gupta. The ZERO-G experience was incredible and has brought me closer to that goal. It's so amazing that we are the first 9th grade students to have such an opportunity. This will help in further promoting the fields of science and technology."
Florida teachers are no strangers to microgravity and lead the nation in such flight experiences. More than 75 teachers from the state of Florida - more than any other state - have participated in ZERO-G pilot programs and last year's Northrop Grumman Weightless Flights of Discovery - a nationwide, professional development program that sought to inspire science careers for students by conducting teacher professional development that incorporated weightless flights. The program helped lay the foundation and demand for the new Space Florida / Zero Gravity Corp. initiative.
In addition to the new center, Florida will also serve as the host site for the historical zero-gravity flight planned with world renowned physicist and microgravity expert, Professor Stephen Hawking on April 26, 2007. The flight is expected to further raise the state's profile as a leader in space tourism and education.
Zero Gravity Corporation (www.GoZeroG.com) is a privately held space entertainment and tourism company whose mission is to make the excitement and adventure of space accessible to the public. ZERO-G is based in Florida and Las Vegas, Nevada, and is the first and only FAA-approved provider of weightless flight to the general public (known as The ZERO-G Experience(TM)), as well as the entertainment and film industries; corporate and incentive market; non-profit research and education sectors; and government.
The ZERO-G Experience consists of a brief training session for flyers (ZERO-G passengers) followed by a 90-minute flight aboard G-Force One, during which parabolic maneuvers are performed. The controlled ascent and descent of the plane allows flyers to experience gravity on Mars (1/3-gravity); the moon (1/6-gravity); and in zero-g space. Since launching its service to the general public in September 2004, the company has conducted more than 100 weightless flights and flown more than 2,500 passengers, including celebrities and personalities, corporate charters, science and math teachers, and individuals age 12 to 85.
G-Force One is a specially-modified, 35-passenger Boeing 727-200, and The ZERO-G Experience(TM) is the only FAA-approved weightless flight experience available to the general public. The weightless flights are similar to those conducted by NASA for more than 40 years to train its astronauts. ZERO-G was recently granted FAA approval to fly individuals with disabilities. ZERO-G operates under the highest safety standards as set by the FAA (Part-121) with its partner Amerijet International. Aircraft operations take place under the same regulations set for commercial passenger airlines.
For more information about ZERO-G, please visit http://www.GoZeroG.com or call (800) ZERO-G-800.
About Space Florida
Space Florida is the principal organization charged with fostering the growth of Florida's Space industry. Created by the State Legislature in 2006, the agency has significant authority and economic development powers that enables the execution of responsibilities and mission that includes promoting industry related education and workforce development initiatives, innovative research and development programs and enhancing the aerospace business climate through sound expansion, recruitment and retention efforts. Space Florida provides leadership for space-related infrastructure improvements and facilitates commercial aerospace ventures. The agency is cooperatively working with NASA, the U.S. Air Force and a variety of other Federal, State and local government entities to attract commercial investments and to position Florida as the global leader in the aerospace industry. For more information on Space Florida visit www.SpaceFlorida.gov.
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