Citizens in Space

Citizens in Space

Citizens in Space, a project of the United States Rocket Academy, is dedicated to citizen science and citizen space exploration. Citizens in Space is a nonprofit project working with (not for) the companies developing new commercial spacecraft. Our goal is to enable ordinary people to fly in space as citizen astronauts (citizen space explorers) and to enable citizen scientists to fly experiments into space. For the first phase of our project, we have acquired an initial contract for 10 suborbital spaceflights with one of the new space transportation companies—XCOR Aerospace.

We will be making payload space on these flights available to citizen scientists. Professional researchers will be eligible, too, if they play by certain rules. We will fly these experiments free of charge, but any experiment submitted to us must be licensed as open-source hardware. We expect to fly up to 100 small experiments in our initial flight campaign. Our hope is that the experiment hardware developed through this project will be replicated widely by citizen scientists and flown many times on a wide variety of vehicles in the future. For information on the rules for submitting payloads, see the Call for Experiments.

Along with the general call for experiments, we are offering a $10,000 prize for one particularly interesting experiment in the High Altitude Astrobiology Challenge. We will also have a $5,000 reserve prize for the best experiment which does not win the High Altitude Astrobiology Challenge.

Project Details

  • PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Edward Wright, Chairman
  • SCIENTIST AFFILIATION: United States Rocket Academy
  • DATES: Ongoing
  • PROJECT TYPE: Fieldwork
  • COST: Free
  • GRADE LEVEL: All Ages

    For additional information, visit the Citizens in Space Web site.

See more projects in FreeFieldworkAll Ages.

What Is Citizen Science?

Research often involves teams of scientists collaborating across continents. Now, using the power of the Internet, non-specialists are participating, too. Citizen Science falls into many categories. A pioneering project was SETI@Home, which has harnessed the idle computing time of millions of participants in the search for extraterrestrial life. Citizen scientists also act as volunteer classifiers of heavenly objects, such as in Galaxy Zoo. They make observations of the natural world, as in The Great Sunflower Project. And they even solve puzzles to design proteins, such as FoldIt. We'll add projects regularly—and please tell us about others you like as well.

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