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California Teachers to Fly With NASA

The teachers will board a plane fitted with a telescope that helps researchers study black holes and star formations

By Jonathan Lloyd
|  Monday, May 23, 2011  |  Updated 12:23 PM PDT
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PHOTOS: Space Shuttles of the Past

NASA

NASA's modified SOFIA aircraft soars over Texas.

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Palmdale Teacher Prepares for Big Mission

A Palmdale middle school teacher will be going on a science flight next month as part of a program set up by NASA to encourage the study of science
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Two of the six teachers selected to fly on NASA's flying observatory are from California.

Marita Beard, of Branham High School in San Jose, and Kathleen Fredette, of Desert Willow Intermediate School in Palmdale, will be on the modified Boeing 747SP. The flights out of Palmdale are scheduled through June.

The plane -- called the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy -- is fitted with a 100-inch infrared telescope. It's used to study black holes and star formations.

More than 70 teachers flew on NASA's previous flying observatory, the Kuiper Airborne Observatory. The program was in operation from 1991 to 1995. 

"That program had long-lasting, positive effects on both the teachers and their students," said John Gagosian, SOFIA program executive at agency headquarters in Washington.

The six teachers selected for the SOFIA program submitted applications that included how they plan to take their training and experience back to their classrooms.

The program is managed from NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards. The SOFIA aircarft is based at Dryden Aircraft Operations Facility in Palmdale.

NASA will conduct a video chat Thursday about the program. Click here for details.

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