Why I give

ISU Supporters share their reasons for supporting the University and Alumni tell us stories about the impact ISU had on their lives and careers.
Click on the pictures to discover their testimonies.

Brian Rishikof, SSP 1990

From my first contact with the SSP in 1990, I was smitten. The experience was a turning point in my life. It opened up a whole new world of opportunity that catalyzed my career and exposed me to tools and skills beyond my academic field of specialty. It allowed me to benefit from the wisdom and insight of an incredibly talented and diverse network of like-minded and passionate people. As a direct result of knowledge gained, and individuals I met at ISU, I have been able to start two space companies. And since the very beginning, I have committed to giving back to ISU with time and resources so its ideals and message can move outward, and so a whole new community of talented and inspired people can enjoy the same privilege, and be inspired -- like I was.

James Newman, SSP 1989

“I contribute to ISU to help ensure that there are opportunities for people to learn about space in a multi-national, multi-cultural setting.  NASA / Johnson Space Center sent me to attend the 1989 Summer Session of ISU in Strasbourg and I learned more about the world’s space programs that summer than I did for many years after that, even after I was selected to join NASA’s Astronaut Corp.  My space flights included beginning the construction of the International Space Station and I am pleased to see so much international cooperation coming from that.  Over the years I constantly run into other ISU graduates from my year and other years – it is a great community and an excellent educational opportunity.”

Fabian Eilingsfeld, EMBA10

"My personal ISU story having a happy ending makes me eternally grateful. When ISU was founded in 1987, I read about it in a magazine and was instantly hooked. As a graduate student, while being on a study trip to the US in October 1988, I walked across the MIT campus to pay ISU a visit, just to learn that everybody was away, attending that year’s IAC in Bangalore, India. This was just prelude to more bad timing on my part. In the years that followed, I hoped several times to enroll in an SSP, but always had to abandon the idea for various reasons. Yet, I never lost sight of my goal to make it to ISU one day. Many years later, after seeing my presentation at the 2002 IAC in Houston, Walter Peeters recruited me as guest lecturer for ISU’s MSc class of 2003. This turned out to be a life-changing experience. Since then, I have been teaching at every MSc class, growing to be a member of the global ISU family. From here onwards, it took me only another seven years to become – at long last – an ISU student myself. Thanks to a Région Alsace scholarship, my dream finally came true and I graduated as member of the inaugural EMBA class in 2010, 23 years after first wanting to attend ISU!" (Dr. Eilingsfeld pictured with the plaque representing his donation to ISU Buy A Seat Campaign)

Jim & Lin Burke, Supporters of ISU

“We have been supporting, Lin and myself, ISU since its beginning and continue to do so. The wealth of ideas one discovers in Team Projects, to just mention one aspect, is so refreshing and inspiring that we love to be involved in this and advise the next generations of space professionals. ISU keeps you fit!”

Diego Urbina, SSP 2008 & MSc 2009

“Attending ISU has been, for me, the ultimate eye-opening experience. Attending the Master of Space Studies allowed me to pursue my personal interests with a limit determined only by my imagination. I found myself working on very exciting projects with talented and knowledge-thirsty colleagues”

Claudia Kessler, SSP 1993

"ISU (summer session 1993) was a fantastic experience for me, a lot of people I met there became friends for a lifetime. Today, being CEO of a multinational multidisciplinary space company, I often say: “If ISU was a company it would be HE Space”."

Chris & Nicole Stott, Supporters of ISU

"Attending ISU fundamentally changed my life. Every decision I have made in the space industry has been guided by what I learned in the ISU MSc program. Post-graduation, the ISU network has opened doors and opportunities to me that I had not dreamt existed. ISU gave me the skills and contacts I needed to succeed. Which is why my wife, Nicole, and I as professional in the space industry continue to support ISU both with our time and in donating to the University, so that others can benefit from the incredible opportunity that is ISU.  On a daily basis we also see the positive impact ISU graduates are having upon all sectors of the space industry.  We need more ISU graduates in this industry.  We need more opportunities for our colleagues to attend and to learn from ISU.  ISU is vital to the future of this industry and to the future of the world as a whole.  This is why we support ISU."

Juan De Dalmau, SSP 1989

"In more than 20 years of space career since I graduated from the SSP, it has been a true pleasure to contribute and to benefit considerably from the ISU. Like in many non-profit organisations, the more you put in, the more you get out. I have recruited ISU alumni to start an aerospace R&D centre in Spain, I have regularly delivered lectures and workshops at ISU programs, and I have always benefitted from the informal but very strong and effective network of faculty colleagues, alumni, partners and sponsors from academia, space agencies and industry. Today, the ISU has developed a variety of programs and international partnerships that can serve virtually any need for space training."

Dragos Bratasanu, SSP 2012

“Thank you for opening doors for us that we had no idea they exist at all, and thank you for opening our eyes to future landscapes that were beyond our imagination before SSP12. Thank you for all the difficult challenges we had to face during our projects and for the easy moments in between. As strong trees grow both during rain and sunshine, we also had to face both in order to grow. I don’t think there’s any greater joy than to fulfil the dreams of others and bring happiness into their lives. And this is exactly what you have done for us – you have fulfilled our dreams and created new horizons of imagination. Thank you!”

Loretta Hidalgo Whitesides, SSP 2000

"ISU is like family. A family of people who come from all over the planet, speak different languages, and have different academic training but who share a common passion for space. What inspires me most about ISU is that it creates a bond that facilitates collaboration across borders and across disciplines that our alumni use throughout their careers. That is a huge contribution not only to them personally but also to our future as a species."

Michael Potter, SSP 1988

“I graduated from ISU’s 1988 inaugural class where I completed the Space Studies Program at MIT. As are a number of ISU graduates, I am motivated by social enterprise – seeking ways to use my expertise in space business and technology to have a positive impact on the world. I don’t know of any unemployed alumni at ISU. The global ISU community is extremely effective at identifying and absorbing talent. I also credit my ISU connections and network with critical moments in my career – from helping me land at a joint a consulting firm in Washington, D.C. specializing in outer space consulting, to co-foundingEsprit Telecom plc., a pan-European competitive telecommunications services provider, with a member of ISU’s Board of Trustees. The company eventually went public and created more than 1,000 jobs. I also interviewed many people connected to ISU for my award-winning film, “Orphans of Apollo,” which tells the true story of a small, dedicated of space entrepreneurs who attempted to commercialize the Russian Mir Space Station. The film has drawn a cult following among university students and those in the new space movement.”

Sarah Jane Pell, SSP 2006

"As the first artist alumna of ISU, I humbly admit that the program was life-changing! I made life-long friends. A whole new world of possibilities opened up to me, and for the very first time, I knew that I had followed my instincts correctly. Inspired by Arthur C. Clarke, Robert A. Heinlein and the entrepreneurial founders of ISU, my artistic career would be dedicated to space."

Mikkel Ladegaard, SSP 2012

"For me the SSP was an eye opener. For the first time my goal of participating in the exploration of space was not just a far of dream or something to which I was an enthusiastic spectator. ISU allowed me to participate directly and brought me in contact with the space leaders of today and close to the 130 other participants among whom I am sure will be the leaders of tomorrow."

Sara Bruni, SSP 2012

“I can hardly find the words to describe what the ISU experience has meant to me. I have learned even more than what I was expecting before attending the program, and I have tried myself with different tasks and in disciplines I was not familiar with. The Space Studies Program has been for me a precious source of personal and professional growth which will definitely help and guide me in my career now on. I really cannot dream of a more rewarding professional experience which I was so lucky to share with brilliant people from all over the world. I still cannot believe how important this experience has been for me, I just want to thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for the great chance you gave me.”

Robert Hunt, SHS-SP 2012

“Completing the course has been an invaluable experience, by both raising my awareness of space sciences as well as introducing me to a network of extraordinary people.”


Reasons to Give

Why Give?

ISU needs you! ISU's goal is to build an interdisciplinary, international and intercultural community for space exploration. Your gift will allow us to maintain our standard of excellence.

You can change a life! Your support will help ISU to keep training the best and brightest students! It will in particular help students of emerging countries to fulfill a dream and take a step towards their future careers, by supporting their scholarships.

Give back! For ISU Alumni, giving back is a way to honor the community that helped them succeed. Take the chance to provide the same opportunities for future students as you were given!

It is easy! Just give online, or fill the pledge form and send it back to ISU. Every gift counts and the size of your gift is entirely up to you. Donations of all amounts are vital and will allow us to respond quickly to emerging needs.


Share Your Reasons!

Why do you give to ISU? We would love to hear about your story and share it with others. Please tell us about your ISU experience and what made you give. We hope your stories will inspire others to do the same! Please send us your testimony This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., including your name, class year if applicable, and a picture. Thank you!



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Thanks to generous gifts, ISU is the proud owner of a number of education tools that broaden the hands-on training possibilities for the students of ISU Masters programs.



Some of these tools were a donation from the European Space Agency (ESA), as a statement of the agency's strong support to the university.



ISU is also really proud to host an Excalibur Almaz Reusable Return Vehicle (Almaz RVV), which is the Russian equivalent of the NASA Space Shuttle transporting cosmonauts from the International Space Station. This vehicle has a remarkable history and pedigree. The Almaz RVV currently on display at ISU is for educational use through a loan by Excalibur Almaz Limited.

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