Mission: AstroAccess Opens Applications to Disabled
Crew Participants for Space Training on Zero Gravity Flight
(LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA, July 15, 2021) This morning the SciAccess Initiative announced the launch of Mission: AstroAccess, a program bringing a diverse group of disabled people on a historic ZERO-G parabolic flight. Mission: AstroAccess’ crew of disabled volunteers will participate in targeted tasks during the program’s flight to help answer important questions about how disabled people can safely travel and work in space.
“Space is not just part of humanity’s future – it is a place where we can rethink life on earth today,” said George Whitesides, Mission: AstroAccess Project Lead. “With this flight we hope to lay the foundation for future disabled space explorers.”
Applications are open now through August 15. Any disabled adult (18+) currently living in the United States is welcome to apply for a mission slot. Mission: AstroAccess is hosting an informational webinar for all interested applicants on July 21. More information and the application form can be found at astroaccess.org.
“Over 500 people have flown to space so far and not one of them has had a significant disability. One of our key mission goals is to change this,” said Anna Voelker, Mission: AstroAccess Project Lead and Executive Director of the SciAccess Initiative and the Aspen Science Center. “Implementing accessibility is crucial not only for inclusion, but for the safety and success of all space explorers.”
Mission: AstroAccess seeks to advance this cause during its parabolic flight from Long Beach, California, scheduled for October 17th, 2021. The mission will bring together the largest and most diverse group of disabled crew members in a weightless environment.
“Our mission is to change outer space and change the world,” said Dr. Sheri Wells-Jensen, Associate Professor of Linguistics at Bowling Green State University. “If you are a disabled person who is confident, enthusiastic, playful, and literally willing to float upside down to change the future, we are looking for you!”
Mission: AstroAccess is conducted in partnership with Gallaudet University, Disabled American Veterans (DAV), the San Francisco LightHouse for the Blind, the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), the Stanford Medicine Abilities Coalition, UCSD’s Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination, Space for Humanity, Disabled for Accessibility in Space (DAIS), the Aspen Science Center, and the Whitesides Foundation. Yuri’s Night, a non-profit organization dedicated to space education and global participation in space, is the project host for the mission.
“DAV (Disabled American Veterans) is honored to support Mission: AstroAccess and promote inclusion in space for disabled veterans through the parabolic flight,” said Marc Burgess, DAV national adjutant and CEO. “Our joint efforts with the SciAccess Initiative will integrate disabled veterans and civilians alike into space. This program will have a transformative impact on veteran’s lives and give us all hope for a more inclusive future.”
“This partnership is the first step in making the people who explore space look like all Americans,” said LightHouse CEO Bryan Bashin. “Blind people have been explorers, scientists and communicators for millennia, and Mission: AstroAccess and the LightHouse for the Blind – San Francisco will help move our contributions into space.”
“As we expand how we explore space from using robotic spacecrafts to crewed spaceships, the expertise of our disabled scientists and engineers will be needed every step of the way,” said Dr. Jamie Molaro, Executive Director of DAIS. “This mission will shed light on the steps we need to take towards that goal.”
About SciAccess Initiative
In 2018, the SciAccess Initiative (sciaccess.org) was founded in response to an overwhelming need to address a lack of accessibility, diversity, and visibility for scientists with disabilities in the STEM community. Made possible due to The Ohio State University President’s Prize, the SciAccess Initiative began as a one-time conference dedicated to promoting disability inclusion in STEM. From there, it grew into an international initiative that has since branched off into myriad programs working towards a more equitable future. SciAccess aims to advance the development and dissemination of best practices in accessible STEM research and education through a growing series of global programs, including Mission: AstroAccess, the annual SciAccess Conference (taking place virtually in 2021 on November 12 & 13), the SciAccess Zenith Mentorship Program, and SciAccess Working Group.
About Disabled American Veterans (DAV)
DAV empowers veterans to lead high-quality lives with respect and dignity. It is dedicated to a single purpose: keeping our promise to America’s veterans. DAV does this by ensuring that veterans and their families can access the full range of benefits available to them; fighting for the interests of America’s injured heroes on Capitol Hill; providing employment resources to veterans and their families and educating the public about the great sacrifices and needs of veterans transitioning back to civilian life. DAV, a non-profit organization with more than 1 million members, was founded in 1920 and chartered by the US Congress in 1932. Learn more at www.dav.org.
About the San Francisco LightHouse for the Blind
San Francisco’s LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired promotes the independence, equality and self-reliance of people who are blind or have low vision. For more information, visit www.lighthouse-sf.org.
About Disabled for Accessibility in Space (DAIS)
DAIS is a peer networking, support, and advocacy group for disabled, neurodivergent, and chronically ill people working in space science, engineering, and related fields. The group acts as a platform to lift up disabled voices and advocate for awareness and accessibility in our physical and virtual community workplaces. Find more information about our online member network and our ally network at www.disabledinspace.org.
Zero Gravity Corporation 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 the first and only FAA-approved provider of weightless flight in the U.S. for the general public; entertainment and film industries; corporate and incentive markets; non-profit research and education sectors; and the government. ZERO-G’s attention to detail, excellent service and quality of experience combined with its exciting history has set the foundation for the most exhilarating adventure-based tourism. For more information about ZERO-G, please visit www.gozerog.com.