KenReightlerALLEGANY, NY — Former NASA Astronaut Ken Reightler will be the guest speaker at the fourth Annual Dresser-Rand Challenger Learning Center Celebration Dinner in Allegany, N.Y., on Sept. 19, 2013.

Selected by NASA in June 1987, Reightler, a United States Naval Academy graduate, completed a year of astronaut candidate training and was designated an astronaut in August 1988.

From Sept. 12–18, 1991, he was the pilot on the crew of STS-48. This was the first space shuttle flight in support of “Mission to Planet Earth.” During the five-day mission, the crew aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery successfully deployed the Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (UARS), designed to provide scientists with their first complete data set on the upper atmosphere’s chemistry, winds and energy inputs. The crew also conducted numerous secondary experiments ranging from growing protein crystals, to studying how fluids and structures react in weightlessness.

Reightler next served as pilot on STS-60, the first joint U.S./Russian Space Shuttle Mission. Launching from the Kennedy Space Center on Feb. 3, 1994, STS-60 was the first flight of the Wake Shield Facility (WSF-1) and the second flight of the Space Habitation Module (Spacehab-2). During the eight-day flight, the crew of Discovery, including Russian cosmonaut Sergei Krikalev, conducted a wide variety of biological, materials science, earth observation, and life science experiments.

With the completion of his second mission, Reightler logged over 327 hours in space.

The annual dinner, which is open to the public, follows highly successful events from the past three years — retired astronaut Col. Pamela Melroy was the guest of honor in 2010; Scott Parazynski, an astronaut, physician, inventor, mountaineer, pilot and public speaker was the keynote speaker in 2011; and author, speaker and educator June Scobee Rodgers, the widow of Challenger Space Shuttle Commander Dick Scobee, was the featured guest in 2012.

Specifics of the event will be announced soon. For more information, please visit the Challenger Learning Center website at or call (716) 379-8686.

About the Dresser-Rand Challenger Learning Center

The Dresser-Rand Challenger Learning Center, a not-for-profit organization, is a space-themed educational facility with programs designed to stimulate interest in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM education) through a series of hands-on experiences and simulations that are tied to classroom learning and team building.

The Center offers two simulated space missions: Voyage to Mars and Rendezvous with Comet Halley; a team-building activity, the Great Rocket Design Challenge; and STEM programs Simple Machines and Engine Works. Since opening in June 2009, more than 6,500 students from 17 counties in New York and Pennsylvania have participated in these educational programs.

Visit the Dresser-Rand Challenger Learning Center online at, and