NASA To Host International Space University Summer Session

By Cheryl Pellerin
USINFO Staff Writer

Washington - NASA announced March 7 that its Ames Research Center in California will host the 2009 International Space University (ISU) Summer Session Program, an intensive nine-week course of study in subjects ranging from engineering and physical sciences to satellite applications and policy.

The university, based in Illkirch-Graffenstaden near Strasbourg, France, was established in 1987 to promote the peaceful study, exploration and development of space for the benefit of all people. Regular classes are held in France, but summer sessions are held in a different city every year.

"The Ames Research Center is hosting the summer session," said Donald James, project manager for the 2009 international space university program, in a March 9 USINFO interview, "but all the NASA centers will be involved in this activity."

About 120 postgraduate students from all over the world will participate in the summer session. An international cadre of distinguished professors will teach the classes, and students will benefit from the mentorship of NASA scientists, engineers and researchers, and the agency's academic and industry partners, including Internet firm Google and the aeronautics company Lockheed Martin.

"This is the first time in the program's history that this prestigious summer session will be held at a NASA center, and I'm very proud that we will have a key role in developing future leaders in the global space community," said Ames Director S. Pete Worden, an ISU guest lecturer who committed Ames to hosting a session.

Key factors in the center's selection were Ames' location at Moffett Field in California’s Silicon Valley, its world-class scientists and its ongoing collaborations with academia and the entrepreneurial space community.


ISU offers two 12-month master's programs, one in space studies and one in space management. Each includes a three-month internship and a team project. The programs are designed for students seeking a competitive edge to begin a career in space, professionals who want to move within or into the space sector and researchers who want to move into the space industry. The 2007 sessions began September 1, 2006, and will end August 31, 2007.

The university also offers a weeklong Introductory Space Course, two annual conferences, and short programs (one day to two weeks) on specific topics. Participation in ISU programs is open to individuals and institutions of all nationalities, and the university tries to make sure at least 30 percent of participants are women. Since 1987, more than 2,600 students from 93 countries have completed the program.

NASA has been associated with ISU since its establishment in 1987, James said.

"For example," he added, "the current executive director of the summer session program is actually a NASA employee, Gary Martin. He's on loan to ISU for three years and his tenure expires after the 2007 summer session in Beijing." NASA also has provided course lecturers and sent its own employees to the university.

The European Space Agency is an ISU partner and main sponsor. Other government partners include the French Air Force, the Canadian Space Agency, the German Center for Air and Space Travel, the Russian Federal Space Agency, the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency, the Netherlands Agency for Aerospace Programmes, the Norwegian Space Center and UNESCO. Other partners include industry, nonprofit organizations and individuals.

ISU also has affiliate campuses in Australia, Belgium, Canada, China, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States.

“The selection of NASA Ames Research Center as the site for summer session 2009 is all the more noteworthy since the competition presented the largest selection of outstanding proposals in the 20-year history of the International Space University," said ISU President Michael Simpson. "We have no doubt that the students who attend Summer Session Program 2009 will be accelerated on their way to becoming leaders in the space sector."

The summer session curriculum covers major space-related fields, ranging from engineering, physical sciences and satellite applications to life sciences, policy, management and humanities. The summer session runs from mid-June 2009 to August 2009.

"We at NASA view our hosting of this program as furthering our objectives in science and technology education," James said. "We expect to leverage this program to enhance our own STEM education objectives - science, technology, engineering, math - the four areas that are important to NASA and the nation's future."

More information about the International Space University is available on that organization's Web site.

Additional information about NASA about is available at the agency's Web site.

See also Science and Technology.