A centerpiece to the Space Day program is the Student Signatures in Space (S3) project, which gives elementary school students the opportunity to send their personal signatures into space. The S3 program is sponsored jointly by both NASA and Lockheed Martin Corporation.
Participating schools are sent giant posters for their students to sign on Space Day (held the first Thursday each May), along with supporting educational materials and program memorabilia. Participants return the posters to Lockheed Martin, and the posters are individually photographed. NASA packages the negatives and includes them in the manifest of a U.S. Space Shuttle mission. The mission selected for S3 is always one that is launched in the fall of that year's project. This ensures that most schools are back in session during the mission, providing another great teaching opportunity for educators from participating schools as the students follow "their" mission. When school resumes in the fall, S3 participants receive ongoing emailings of space-related lesson plans and S3 mission status reports and teaching information. After the mission, the posters are returned to the schools for display, along with an official NASA certification verifying that the signatures flew in space, as well as a photo of the crew that took the signatures up.
The first signatures project was held to celebrate Space Day 1997. Then, over 96,000 signatures from more than 220 U.S. elementary schools traveled aboard Shuttle-Mir docking mission STS-86 in September 1997.
In 1998, the program was expanded to include 537 schools (418 domestic and 119 international), as well as 71 children's museums and 100 domestic and international Girl Scout councils. In 1998, the program reached over 500,000 students, with their signatures flying on STS-95, the historic mission that returned John Glenn to space in October that year.
In 1999, the program included 548 schools. Signatures went to space aboard STS-103, the exciting Hubble Space Telescope servicing mission.
Space Day 2000 included another 540 schools, with the International Space Station assembly mission STS-92 taking participants' signatures to space.
For Space Day 2001, the signatures flew on STS-108, another Station assembly mission, which launched in December. This mission marked the two millionth signature flown through the S3 program.
Signatures collected in the 2002 program were flown on mission STS-113, which launched in November, 2002.
Signatures for the 2003 program were collected on Space Day and are awaiting assignment of a flight pending NASA's return to flight following the tragic Columbia accident in February 2003.
Although NASA's Space Shuttle fleet has been temporarily grounded, we have not grounded our student education programs. Thus, Space Day continues to be held (scheduled for May 6 this year), and schools are being registered to participate in Student Signatures in Space 2004. The signatures from this year's program will be included on a Space Shuttle flight to be determined when NASA resumes its Space Shuttle program (tentatively scheduled for the spring of 2005).
Schools are selected for participation in a variety of ways. Many are selected by representatives from Lockheed Martin or Space Day Partner companies throughout the world. These representatives "sponsor" one or more of their local schools, often providing additional Space Day activities to support the signature festivities. Sponsors conduct such events as space trivia contests and spelling bees, field trips, guest speakers, poster and essay contests, hands-on displays, space-related experiments and lesson plans, model rocket building and launchings, and countless other events.
School names are also often submitted by representatives from various NASA centers and international space agencies, as well as representatives from the U.S. Congress and Senate. Many schools hear about the project on their own and sign up by contacting the S3 program coordinator directly (see sign-up information below). The goal is to ensure that all states are represented in the program each year. Thus, there are also a few schools that are randomly selected each year from Internet web sites to cover states from which only a small number of school names were submitted.
S3 does not cost schools anything to participate. All costs (including shipping both ways) are paid for by Lockheed Martin Corporation.
Having signatures flown on the Space Shuttle is a rare treat as space is extremely limited on each mission. Space requirements limit us to only approximately 500 schools per year, and we try to sign up as many schools as possible that have never participated before. Once we reach our quota, we create a wait list for participation the following year. Thus, to ensure that as many students as possible are able to participate, the following participation rules apply:
We are currently accepting participants for the S3 2004 program. The deadline for sign-up is March 12, 2004.
Schools that would like to participate should email email@example.com and provide the following information:
1. Name of school
2. Physical/FedX-deliverable address of school, including street address, city, state, and zip code (no P.O. boxes, please)
3. School's phone number
4. Name of school's principal
5. Name and job title of person who will be coordinating project at school (if different from principal)
6. Email address of person in #5 above (Note: Email address is essential for participation. If school does not have an email address, please supply a home email address of the coordinator or a staff member at the school.)
7. How did you hear about the S3 program?
8. Please write "per Yohan" on the sign-up submission.
If you are a school sponsor (e.g., Lockheed Martin, space agency, Space Day Partner company, etc.) and would like to be listed as the school's sponsor, please also include the following information:
9. Your name
10. Your job title
11. Your company's name (if Lockheed Martin, please identify which LM company)
12. Your work mailing address
13. Your work phone number
14. Your email address
For more information on Space Day, please visit Lockheed Martin's Space Day web site at www.spaceday.org.
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