An Open Letter To Ed Wright And The US Rocket Academy

Dear Ed,

You called me a liar. In public. Using your twitter account.

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What did I do to you? We have always had good conversation when meeting. I even loaned you my iPad cables so you could give your presentation at Space Access last year. I guess being a nice guy really does make you last.

It must have been when I volunteered for the Space Frontier Foundation’s Teachers in Space program. Ever since your phone call with the ‘facts’ about TIS and its volunteers, you have had it in for me.

Do you remember that phone call? I sure do. It was the one where you gave me all the facts about TIS and the people who were working on it. You have to admit, what you presented was eye opening. I told you on that phone call I would investigate and make a determination. I took the facts you gave me, turned them into knowledge and decided to stay with the group.

That must be it. I didn’t agree with your conclusions and it was as if I had painted a target on my back.

Besides the personal attack, you put out a few other messages about the Space Frontier Foundation on twitter. Once again, you spouted a lot of facts. I dislike twitter. Why? Because you get a lot of little ‘facts’ without gaining any real knowledge. It’s sort of like the TV show ‘Jeopardy’ in a way.

Let’s say we take some of your facts and turn them into knowledge, shall we?

First up is this:

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Attacks? Really? I published a press release about the application process being open for one of our summer workshops. I relayed that information to media outlets (which is what you are supposed to do to let people know about things). In that release and in all of my talks with people, only once did your name even come up. They refused to get in the middle of the fight and so they would not carry the information. I understand their position.

Next up are these gems:

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You changed the name of your teachers in space program to ‘Citizens in Space’, correct? So why do you still harp on the old TIS name? You do not use it except to badger anyone who tries to do anything with us (oh and as a relic pointer to CiS). And speaking of control, I understand there was an agreement drafted for an amicable split that was presented to you. You rejected it. That was all before I even joined the group so my knowledge is not as great as I want it to be in that area. I was satisfied with the answers given and will leave it at that.

Finally, there is this one:

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You are correct. The goal of Teachers in Space is to fly educators into space. And yes to date, we have not sent a teacher on a space flight. By the way Ed, how many teachers has your group flown to space? Yeah, that is what I thought.

The reality is no one is flying yet because the vehicles are not ready. When Teachers in Space started, there were several companies that promised flights. All were on board. As of now, one of those companies is bankrupt, one is mothballed, one switched to just experiments, one is still building V1 of their craft (it will not fly to space), one doesn’t say anything about what they are working on and the last one, which actually may fly this year, is a long way from taking passengers. We are all grounded at the moment.

Except, this is where the weather balloons and workshops come in. We educate teachers on science they can do in their classrooms today. They come from all over the country to learn what it takes to put experiments together. They learn how to make something work in the inhospitable realm above our atmosphere. These are lessons they can take back with them to the classroom and share.

Our pathfinders are ready to go to space. We have six of them waiting for the vehicles to be ready too. They have been through simulation and training. They continue to study and learn and share their knowledge with the next generation. They do this not for pay or for fame but because they want to give students something to strive for. That is what Teachers in Space is about and I am proud to be a part of it.

Ed, everyone has moved on from what happened years ago. Everyone is at the table trying to bring the passion and excitement of space to everyone. You seem to be the only one going around pouring vinegar in everyone’s plate. The space environment is too big for this kind of stuff. If we can’t band together to make space work for the public, the least we can do is stay out of the way of each other. The backbiting only pushes everyone in the industry away.

What say you?

Sincerely,

Joe Latrell
Project Coordinator
Teachers In Space

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