StellarXplorers Overnight Experience for educators July 27-28

Mentors and other educators (both formal and informal) will learn how to teach and develop students with a space system design challenge during an overnight camp-in experience at Space Center Houston.

StellarXplorers is an Air Force Association-sponsored program that inspires and attracts high school students to pursue studies and careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). This rigorous hands-on space system design challenge involves all aspects of system development and operation, focusing on spacecraft and payload.

The camp-in will teach the educators how to use the Systems Toolkit (STK) software and how to start or develop a team at their school. They will do this while making authentic connections to the wonders of space exploration at Space Center Houston.

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StellarXplorers Camp-In includes

  • Buffet dinner served at Space Center Houston
  • Welcome briefing in preparation for the night’s activities
  • Access to the Understanding Space textbook digitally, which teaches basic orbital mechanics and ground tracks
  • Instruction on the use of STK, a professional space systems simulation software
  • Working as teams to solve an orbit determination scenario based on the StellarXplorers National High School Space Challenge
  • Sleeping overnight among historic flown spacecraft and national treasures
  • Buffet breakfast served at Space Center Houston
  • Private tram tour of NASA Johnson Space Center, which includes Historic Mission Control, Space Vehicle Mock Up Facility and Rocket Park

Registration and pricing

  • July 27-28
  • $59.95 per participant
  • Include participant name, school name and contact information when registering

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What to bring

  • Sleeping bag, pillow, change of clothes, basic toiletries. No showers are available.
  • Computers will be provided with the STK software. Participants are welcome to bring their own computers as well.


3-3:30 p.m. Check-in at Space Center Houston entrance
3:30-4 p.m. StellarXplorers program overview
4-4:30 p.m. Team building activity
4:30-5:30p.m. Understanding Space textbook overview
5:30-6:30 p.m. Buffet Dinner in Zero-G Diner
6:30-9:30 p.m. STK software basics workshop
9:30 p.m. Prepare for bed
10:30 p.m. Lights out
6:50 a.m. Wake-up, pack-up, load sleeping gear in vehicles
7:30 a.m. Buffet breakfast served in Zero-G Diner
8 a.m. Tram tour of NASA Johnson Space Center
9:30 a.m. Return to Space Center Houston
9:45-11 a.m. Introduction to StellarXplorers challenge scenario
11 a.m. – 12 p.m. Lunch; enjoy Zero-G Diner on your own
12:15 – 2:15 p.m. StellarXplorers team scenario competition
2:15 – 3 p.m. Scenario debriefing
3 – 3:30 p.m. Camp summary
3:30 Dismissal

Please note that the above schedule is subject to change without notice. Length of tram tour and the locations visited vary depending on the season.

Frequently asked questions

Yes, there will be a designated male and female sleep section and restrooms. *There are no showers.
There are restrooms located inside the building. There are no showers.
Attendees with dietary restrictions may bring their own food. Absolutely NO cooking will be allowed. Small snacks are acceptable.
After lights-out, the facility will be completely locked down and monitored by security. If participants need to access their vehicles during the night, they should let the security team know.
Yes, there will be a full staff of security guards monitoring the building and grounds and other Space Center Houston crew members.
No, unless you want to purchase your own ticket to explore Space Center Houston.
No, the StellarXplorers staff will explain the basics and you will have an opportunity to “play” with the software.
STK is provided free by Analytical Graphics, Inc. (AGI) at In addition, AGI provides online training, or you can go to the StellarXplorers website at, which provides training.
While Understanding Space is used at the Air Force Academy for their Introduction to Space course, the textbook is primarily written at the middle school level. The calculation problems in the textbook are the university-level portion. The sections used in the StellarXplorers National Challenge are appropriate for high school students.

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