Preparing for Group Simulated Space Missions

To ensure your group gets the most out of their trip to the CLC, please make sure you do the following: 

    1. Review your invoice.
    2. Split your students into groups, assign them to jobs, and fill out a crew manifest.
    3. Register for and attend teacher professional development.
    4. Send and collect student media release forms.
    5. Consider additional preparation information.
    6.  Review the Mission Prep Checklist.


You should receive your invoice by email. Please double-check the dates and times listed, and plan to arrive 10-15 minutes prior to the scheduled start time. To pay by credit card, please call (314) 521-6205, Monday-Friday, 8:00-3:30. Checks may be made out to:

Challenger Learning Center St. Louis
205 Brotherton Lane
Ferguson, MO 63135

Crew Manifests and Group Assignments

The most important thing for teachers to do to prepare their students for a mission at the Challenger Learning Center is to fill out a Crew Manifest before they come. During your simulated space mission, each student has a different role, such as Medical Officer or Communications Officer. Assigning these roles ahead of time avoids wasting time while at the CLC. Please note that we now have different Crew Manifests for every mission. If possible, please make two extra copies of the crew manifest for the flight directors.

Jr. Astronaut Programs

 For all Jr. Astronaut programs, Divide students up into groups of under 20, and make a crew manifest for each group. (One Jr. Astronauts A program will have two crew manifests. One Jr. Astronauts B program will have three crew manifests.)

Jr Astronauts: Space Station Odyssey ( “Jr. SS”, traditionally called “Jr. Astronauts”)
Jr Astronaut: Mars Pioneers (“Jr. Mars”)
Jr. Astronauts: Destination Moon (“Jr. Moon”)

Full Missions

Photo of sample completed crew manifest

For all full missions, please assign up to 30 students to one crew manifest. If you are bringing up to 60 students for a full-day experience with two missions and two engineering design workshops, please split them into two groups and complete a crew manifest for each.

Rendezvous with a Comet
Lunar Quest
Expedition Mars
Earth Odyssey 

If your students are participating in a Discovery Workshop, you need to assign them to jobs ahead of time for those, too:

The Great Rocket Design Challenge
Wind Turbine Design Challenge

More Crew Manifest tips

While students do not need to know their job assignment ahead of time, knowing which group they are in (e.g. “Mrs. Smith’s group”, “First hour,” or “Red group”) can help. For younger students, color-coded stickers/name tags work well.

For Design Challenges, we recommend starting with up to six teams of four student, then adding more students as necessary . 

On the manifest, please star (*) any students who have special needs we should be aware of. Feel free to contact us for advice on what jobs will best accommodate particular needs.

Teacher Mission Training and Professional Development (PD)

A professional development workshop is included in the price of each mission. Our PD has been described as the “best field trip ever” — just for teachers. Workshops help you prepare for your mission and are full of hands-on activities you can use to extend your students’ experience beyond their one-day trip to space. Our advanced PD is great for all science teachers, not just those bringing groups for a mission. Additional teachers can join us for professional development opportunities for $50 a person.

First-Time/ “First in a Long Time” Teachers and Challenger Educator Scholarship Recipients:

Professional development attendance is required. If no PD is available before your scheduled mission, please arrange a time to visit the CLC, review educational materials, and discuss what to expect for your visit. You are still welcomed to register for a PD date after your mission — and may be required to attend, depending on scholarship requirements. To reserve your spot, please email or call us at (314)521-6205.

Returning, Non-Scholarship Teachers

PD is still strongly encouraged. Our advanced PD session are designed to help you take the hands-on, inquiry-based methods of the Challenger Learning Center back to your own classroom, so that you can inspire the future generation of innovators all year long.

 To reserve your spot, please email or call us at (314)521-6205.

Media Release Forms

Sometimes we will want to document your students’ experience and share it with the world. Please have students fill out this Media Release Form (there are two copies per page), and bring them in the day of your mission. If recording will take place during your time with us, we may request you move any students without a media release to the same group, so that they can be more easily accommodated.

Additional Information

  • Rockets are usually launched outside. Students should be dressed appropriately (coats, sunblock, etc.) to be outside for about 15 minutes.
  • There should be one chaperone for each group or subgroup:
    • 1 for Engineering Design Challenges
    • 2 for Full Missions (1 in the Spacecraft, 1 in Mission Control)
    • 2 for Junior Astronauts A
    • 3 for Junior Astronauts B
  • Additional chaperones are appreciated, especially for young students who need help reading directions.
  • Students staying for two programs should bring sack lunches. Weather permitting, students will eat lunch at our picnic tables outside. In poor weather, students will “picnic” on the floor of our lobby. Please remind your students to clean up after themselves, and keep voices down while in the lobby.
  • A gift shop is available during lunchtime or after the mission, but its access is at teacher discretion and time-permitting. Astronaut ice cream, our most popular item, costs $3.50.