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Houston. ISU here. Our 36th Space Studies Program has landed at Rice University. With Record Attendance.

On 10th June 2024, the International Space University (ISU) celebrated the launch of its 36th Space Studies Program (SSP24) at Rice University in Houston, Texas. The ceremony marked a historic return to Houston – the Space City – after 27 years, emphasizing the city’s pivotal role in space exploration. This year, the event was distinguished by the largest cohort to date, with 155 participants from 31 countries, making for a grand procession and extended applause as each participant paraded behind their national flag.

SSP24 kicked off with an array of distinguished speakers and special messages that resonated with the attendees. Reginald DesRoches, the President of Rice University, opened the event with a warm welcome, highlighting the collaborative spirit of the program. Dr. David Alexander, Director of the Rice Space Institute, took the stage to reflect on John F. Kennedy’s 1962 speech, emphasizing its relevance to today’s space challenges and achievements.

Claudia Eyzaguire, SSP24 director and a current NASA detachment, introduced a lineup of speakers who brought a wealth of knowledge and inspiration. Among them was George Abbey, credited with advocating for SSP’s previous hosting at Rice, whose vision was commemorated for propelling humanity further into the cosmos.

The event also featured memorable cultural performances curated by Jerry Miller of The Aerospace Corporation, with a special nod to Houston’s own Beyoncé, celebrating the city’s rich cultural heritage. Dr. Christian Sallaberger, chairman of the ISU Board of Trustees and an ISU SSP88 alum, expressed gratitude toward the staff and highlighted the learning opportunities awaiting this summer’s cohort. Nicolas Peter, President of ISU, addressed the audience next, highlighting the program as a “journey of learning and success.” He extended a heartfelt thanks to the organizations that sent participants, provided scholarships, and to the sponsors who made the upcoming weeks’ activities possible.

A particularly moving moment came from Jessica Meir, a NASA astronaut and ISU alumna, who reminded everyone that “giant leaps start here at ISU.” The ceremony was further enriched with a video message from NASA astronauts Janette Epps and Matthew Dominick aboard the International Space Station, sending best wishes to the SSP24 participants.

The ceremony concluded with visionary words from ISU founder Robert D. Richards and Peter Diamandis, both of whom inspired the audience with their perspectives on space’s potential to better humanity. The event closed on a high note with assurances of an enriching and intensive two-month program that will enhance the participants’ capabilities in tackling the complexities of space exploration.

ISU is proud to host the Space Studies Program at Rice University, in partnership with NASA Johnson Space Center, until 3rd August 2024. The university’s state-of-the-art campus will serve as the backdrop for an educational journey emphasizing the “3Is” of ISU’s core philosophy: Interdisciplinary, International, and Intercultural. As the speakers emphasized, ISU is committed to shaping a new generation of leaders ready to advance space education and exploration.


Stay Engaged

Watch the full ceremony here. Keep up with SSP24 activities through ISU’s social media on LinkedIn, Instagram, X, and Facebook.

Rice University – press release.


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