5th - 8th Simulated Space Missions


Fifth through eighth grade students experience a simulated space mission involving science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). The RENDEZVOUS WITH A COMET (5th-7th) or EXPEDITION MARS (6th-8th) missions utilize mission control and spacecraft where students take control of their adventure.

Mission Control
In Mission Control, students will take charge of their space mission when they become the flight control technicians responsible for guiding astronauts through their mission.

In the Spacecraft, students become astronauts responsible for navigating through space, conducting experiments, monitoring crew health and safety, and building a probe to launch in space.

Crew Exchange 
Halfway through the mission, students will switch places, so that each participant has the opportunity to experience BOTH Mission Control and the Spacecraft.

A simulated space mission accommodates 16-32 students and costs $500 (September - December) and $600 (January - May). Scholarships are available.

Mission times are 9:00 -11:30 am and 11:45 am - 2:15 pm, Monday through Friday (except holidays).

5-8 School Mission Information Sheet


Use the "pre-launch" checklist below to make sure that your mission goes off without any glitches.

Step 1: Schedule your mission.

Schedule Your Mission

Scholarship are available to K-12 schools and their students participating in simulated space missions and programs. Contact the CLC at 309-268-8700 with any questions.  Email completed application to clc@heartland.edu or fax to 309-268-7984. To be eligible for a scholarship:

  • Each individual teacher must complete a separate application.
  • Teacher must register and attend a CLC Teacher Training Workshop.
  • School provides transportation to bring students to CLC on scheduled date(s).

Scholarship Grant Application

Step 2: Register for Teacher Training Workshop.

Register for a Workshop

Teacher training workshops equip teachers with knowledge, skills, and resources necessary to prepare students for their Rendezvous with a Comet or Expedition Mars mission. While there is no charge for teacher training workshops, it is strongly recommend that teachers attend a workshop prior to their scheduled mission. 

Upcoming workshops are scheduled for: January 9, 2018 and April 24, 2018 from 9am-3pm.  Classroom activities, lunch and 6 PDUs are included. 

Step 3: Prepare your students.

After your teacher training workshop, implement CLC curriculum to prepare your students for their CLC. This curriculum may be used in conjunction with any school district's curriculum or as a stand-alone curriculum.

Rendezvous with a Comet Curriculum

Expedition Mars Curriculum

Step 4: Extend the mission.

Phenomenal Physics presentation is available to enhance and extend your CLC mission. Cost of presentation is $75 per group (10-32 students). Demonstrations and fun hands-on activities about motion, waves, and electricity will engage the entire class. 

Mars Science Academy (Grades 5-8) Students experience hands-on science activities related to planning a mission to Mars. Cost of the MSA program is $125 per group (10-32 students). Students work within teams utilizing NASA roles and to reach decisions as they implement one of three Mars scenarios. Each session is expected, but not guaranteed, to end with live interaction with a NASA or other STEM expert to discuss STEM careers with students and encourage future efforts.  Teachers may choose from one of three options:

• MSA: Launch focuses on the math and physical science behind launching a spacecraft to Mars.

• MSA: Land is an earth science based mission looking at the geology of Mars.

• MSA: Live is a life science based mission looking at keeping a crew alive on a Mars base.

Click "YES" on your mission registration form to register for one of the following programs: Phenomenal Physics, Mars Science Academy: Launch, Mars Science Academy: Land, or Mars Science Acadmey: Live.

Mars Science Academy is available in on-site at your school. Contact the CLC at (309) 268-8700 or email clc@heartland.edu to schedule Mars Science Academy for your class.

Avanti's lunches are available for purchase. Students may bring sack lunches to eat at the Challenger Learning Center or order from Avanti's. Lunches include sandwich, chips, cookie or applesauce, and water. Prices range from $3 to $6 per lunch. Click "YES" on your mission registration form to register for Avanti's lunches.

Payment for Phenomenal Physics, Mars Science Academy and/or Avanti's, payable to the Challenger Learning Center, is due the day of the mission.

Avanti's Order Form Packet 
Includes student and teacher order form.

Step 5: Complete necessary paperwork.

Don't forget to bring all of your paperwork to the Challenger Learning Center on the day of your mission:

Comet Mission Crew Manifest 
This form is used by the teacher to assign students to a team for the Rendezvous with a Comet mission.
Mars Mission Crew Manifest 
This form is used by the teacher to assign students to a team for the Expedition Mars mission.
Student Data Form 
This form is filled out by a parent or guardian on behalf of the student and returned to the Challenger Learning Center by the teacher prior to the mission.
Educator Data Form
This form is completed by the teacher and staff and returned to the Challenger Learning Center by the teacher prior to the mission.


Commemorate your mission with Challenger Learning Center merchandise and apparel.

View CLC Merchandise


Contact Us

Challenger Learning Center
1500 W. Raab Rd.
Normal, IL 61761
Phone: 309-268-8700
Fax: 309-268-7984

Stacey Shrewsbury

Lead Flight Director
Phone: 309-268-8701

Susan Evens

Flight Director
Phone: 309-268-8704

Libby Torbeck

Flight Director
Phone: 309-268-8702

Crystal Johnson

Program Assistant
Phone: 309-268-8374

Jenna Brewer

Registration & Records Assistant
Phone: 309-268-8707