FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 22, 1999
Robert Pearlman, Space Adventures
SPACE ADVENTURES AWARDS SUSPENDED "ROCKET BOY" SCHOLARSHIP TO LEARN ROCKETRY
Inspired By "October Sky," David Silverstein Set To Reach For The Stars But
Was Unjustly Suspended For The Entire School Year For Bringing A Homemade
"Rocket" To School
(Arlington, VA) -- March 22 -- Space Adventures has presented a middle
school student the opportunity to learn more about rocketry after he was
suspended for storing a home-built rocket in his school locker. David
Silverstein accepted the invitation on Sunday, and will be Space Adventures'
guest during its July 3 - 4, 1999 Independence Day Astronaut Rocketry
Workshop in Washington, DC.
Inspired by the movie "October Sky," David, a seventh-grade student at the
Desert Sky Middle School in Glendale, Arizona, built the "rocket" from
common household items: a potato chip canister, airplane paint, matches, and
other household materials. He brought the rocket to school so that he could
stop in a empty lot and try to launch it on his way home.
However, when the "rocket" was discovered in his locker, the school called
the police. He was then suspended, first for 12 days and then for the
remainder of the school year. School officials classified the rocket as a
Space Adventures staff learned of David's plight after reading an article on
the NASA Watch website <http://www.reston.com/nasa/watch.html>. Identifying
with the youth, they wanted to do something for him to show that his
creativity and his interest in rocketry was a good thing.
"Obviously, bringing an explosive to school is dangerous," commented Eric
Anderson, Space Adventures' Vice President and General Manager, "but this
was not an explosive, it was made from a Pringles can. More importantly,
the punishment does nothing to help encourage David to understand how to
safely conduct model rockets and express his creativity. We wanted to show
David and other students that rocketry can be pursued in a safe and fun
environment. After all, if it wasn't for the model rocket builders of old,
we never would have succeeded in going to the Moon."
The movie "October Sky" is based on the true story of Homer Hickam and his
friends, who as children growing up during the early days of the space race
experimented as David did when they built their first rockets. However,
Homer and the other "rocket boys" were given an opportunity to learn from
their mistakes and successfully build safe and functioning model rockets.
Homer later became a NASA engineer, and credits his early experiences as a
driving motivation for his successes.
Homer Hickam, himself, learned of David's situation and contacted him
directly via email. He encouraged David not to lose the drive and
imagination which lead him to build the rocket, and he applauded Space
Adventures' invitation. Mr. Hickam has also agreed, pending his schedule, to
attend the July 4 workshop, and looks forward to the chance of meeting David
"I encouraged David not to let the school win out," said Hickam. "I hope
what Space Adventures' has done for David will continue to inspire him to
reach for his dreams."
During the July 4th weekend workshop, David will join other students as they
learn about rocketry, including the basics of propulsion, aerodynamics, and
safety. He and the other attendees will then build their own rockets.
Although not endorsing the program, NASA has granted permission for David
and the others to launch their rockets at Goddard Space Flight Center in
Greenbelt, Maryland. Leading the workshop will be former astronaut Charlie
Walker said, "Space Adventures has put on some spectacular events in the
past, and this one will be no different. I am very much looking forward to
sharing my stories from space with the kids and to teaching them a little
The workshop will end on a spectacular note with a trip to view the
Independence Day fireworks on the nation's Mall. After completing the
rocketry program, David and the others will receive an astronaut-signed
certificate of achievement, a video of their experiences, and their rockets.
After accepting Space Adventures' offer, David said, "Applying my creativity
without breaking the rules is great and being able to build a rocket that
might really work is a fantastic dream come true."
"Space Adventures has given my son an opportunity to explore with his
imagination again," said Ed Silverstein, David's father. "Our thanks to your
organization, Homer Hickam and Keith Cowing of NASA Watch for inspiring my
son and remembering what it is like to be a 'kid'."
Proceeds raised from this workshop will be donated to the Students for the
Exploration and Development of Space (SEDS), a student-run non-profit
dedicated to furthering space education. Parents or students interested in
participating in this or any of the other rocketry workshops scheduled
should contact Space Adventures directly.
Space Adventures, Ltd. is the world's premier space travel and tourism
agency. Founded by astronauts and adventure travel pioneers, Space
Adventures offers all manner of educational and adventure space experience
programs. Through its Steps To Space(TM) program, adventurers can already
experience flying in zero-gravity, rocket at 2.5 times the speed of sound to
the edge of space, and tour the world's space and astronomy facilities,
institutions and centers. Space Adventures has also partnered with the
leading rocket companies in the world to begin actual flights into space
within the next three years. For more information or to reserve a seat, call
888-85-SPACE or visit the website: http://www.spaceadventures.com/