CEA member Rachael Manzer, a district science coach in the Suffield School District, is one of seven finalists for the Teachers in Space program – a joint project of the Space Frontier Foundation and the United States Rocket Academy.
Manzer and the other six finalists were chosen out of hundreds of applications from highly qualified educators. The finalists, known as Pathfinder Astronauts, took part in training this summer at Skylark North, NASA Dryden Flight Research Center, NASA Ames Research Center, Edwards Air Force Base, and the Mojave Air and Space Port. Two of teacher astronauts will fly on the first Pathfinder flights which are scheduled to take place in the next two to four years.
Manzer teaches and models inquiry-based science lessons for K-12 classrooms. She is a former NASA distance learning educator and was a finalist for the NASA Educator Astronaut selection in 2004. She is president-elect of the Connecticut Science Teachers Association.
“Fifty years after the Mercury 7, on the 40th anniversary of the Apollo Moon landing, we’re rebooting the American space program,” said Teachers in Space project manager Edward Wright. “The Pathfinder 7 are now training to fly on suborbital spacecraft under development by private companies. They will be the first astronaut teachers to fly in space and return to the classroom, paving the way for hundreds to follow.”
“The road to space does not start in an aerospace factory,” said Col. Rick Searfoss (USAF-ret.), a former Space Shuttle commander and chief test pilot for XCOR Aerospace, a suborbital rocket company. “It starts in the imagination, and the best place to fire up young imaginations is in school.” Searfoss flew the Pathfinder 7 on recent training flights at the Skylark North, a glider school that trains USAF test pilots and NASA Shuttle astronauts.