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Mission Plans

The Federation of Galaxy Explorers draft mission plans (lessons) are a result of the volunteer efforts of dozens of aerospace engineers, astrophysicists, teachers, and artists.  Each year of the Galaxy Explorer Third Class (Grades 3,4,5) contains missions in the following areas: Space Science, Earth Science, Engineering, Rocketry, and Space Citizenship.  Some lessons still require minor refinements.  That work is ongoing.  Each mission has about 20 - 30 minutes of discussion material followed by an activity.  Most mission plans offer a choice of several activities to ensure kids have the same learning experience,regardless of the availability of materials.

We used as a basis for this work, the lesson plans and educational material developed by NASA, Environmental Protection Agency, National Oceanographic Atmospheric Administration, Federal Aviation Administration, Department of Education, and U.S. Geological Survey.  The Association of Lunar and Planetary Observers and  the Boeing Company contributed lesson plans and educational material on astronomical observing techniques and the International Space Station.  We are grateful to all of the above named organizations for their assistance.  

Grade 3


An introduction to Rockets
A basic overview of Rockets.  What are Rockets? What part do they play in the ongoing inquiry and exploration of Space? (slides in pdf 1M)

What is aerodynamics? How do things fly? What is pitch, yaw, roll.  Demonstrate the principles of flight.


An Introduction to basic Engineering Concepts  What is Engineering in terms of the Space Program?

Space Suits  What types of space suits are their? And how do they work? (Basic principles)

Earth Science

An introduction to Earth Science
What is Earth Science? How does our World work? Why do we need to understand the forces on our Planet? What are the benefits of understanding for space? (slides) Optional intro film "Earth as a System", NASA Globe program, VHS format, 12:25.  Request here.  

Basic Earth Forces
The composition of the Earth.  How geological forces interact with each other over time and what is the resultant impact on the planet.

Space Citizenship

An introduction to `Space' as an Idea , an overall concept.  What are the basic reasons for going to space?  What are the commercial possibilities?   Why should we explore? Write a Space Newspaper and tell the galaxy what you've learned

Space Art.  Space as a visual medium through pictures, paintings, etc.   (Slides in pdf 2.4M)  This is a large file with some beautiful illustrations.

Space Science

Space Basics What is the space environment like? What are the dangers?  How do we survive in space? Space Basic slides in pdf.

Astronomy Intro  The constellations in other cultures.  Learn how ancient cultures explained what they saw in the night sky.  Write your own constellation stories or build a Star Finder.  Star Finder activity sheets. are provided in PDF format.  Astronomy Intro Slides in pdf

Grade 4


Introduction to Launch Facilities
Basic purpose of space launch facilities.  How does a spaceport work?   Launch Infrastructure components, ground operations, launch windows, weather, etc.

The Space Shuttle Learn about the Space Shuttle.  How does it work?  What are its capabilities?


Space Stations  How are Space Stations put together? Basic principles of ISS.  NASA film "ISS Overview", VHS format, 11:06.  Request here.

Life Support Systems
What do humans need to survive in different environments in Outer Space? Consider power, air and water filtration systems.  Emphasis on water purification.

Earth Science

An Introduction to Weather and Climate on our Planet
What are the different climates on our planet? What is the Water Cycle? How do clouds form? What causes the Seasons? Storms.

The Environment
How are we taking care of our environment? How are humans changing the Earth? How are we taking steps to prevent irreversible damage? The effects of pollution. (Slides in pdf.  774K)

Space Citizenship

Space Writing
How do we experience space expressed in  science fiction writing?  What impact has science fiction writing had on us?  Learn how to develop characters and story board.

Space Program Related Benefits
How does the Space Program benefit everyone here on Earth? What are specific  space related benefits of technology and of going into space?

Space Science

Exploring the Solar System Learn the sun, planets, moons, and asteroids of our Solar System. Get the accompanying slides in pdf.

Telescope Principles  Learn about reflectors and refractors

Grade 5


Rocket Design Principles
Learn some of the principles of rocket design.  How are wind tunnels used to test rockets and airplanes?  What is the impact of nose cone shape on rocket flight?  What is the concept of drag?

Model Rocketry
Learn how to build a basic Galaxy Explorers model rocket.  Learn National Association of Rocketry safety standards.  Fly your rockets!


Basic Robotics  How are robots designed and built?  How can they be used in the exploration and development of space? (Slides in pdf 300K).  Intro NASA film "Let's Talk Robotics", VHS format,14:41.  Request here.

Spacecraft  How would a spacecraft be constructed? What are the parts?  How would it function?

Earth Science

Map Making, Geography
Understand basic geography.  Learn about basic maps and how to use them.  Identify geographical features.

Planetary Geology
Basic geological forces - volcanism, tectonism, graduation and cratering. How do these forces impact on the makeup of our world? A simple view of how the Earth has changed over time.

Space Citizenship

International Cooperation  How have different countries worked together in Space related projects?

Great Space Luminaries.  A look at the biographies of the key leaders in space.  How did they impact the world? (Slides 1.5M)

Space Science

Learning about light Learn all about the electromagnetic spectrum.

Great telescopes of the World  Great telescopes in space: Hubble, Chandra, NGTF, etc.