Florida couple seeks student journalists to cover return trip to space

Richard Tribou, Orlando Sentinel on

Published in Lifestyles

Winter Park, Florida, power couple Marc and Sharon Hagle already flew to space with Blue Origin. They’re set for a return flight soon and want to corral some student journalists to cover the story.

It’s part of a contest from the Winter Park-based national nonprofit SpaceKids Global that Sharon Hagle founded in 2015. It aims to stoke interest in the space industry among elementary-school children, focusing on STEAM education, which is science, technology, engineering, art and math.

“I think this is a great opportunity for the kids to really learn,” she said. “What occupations we have here, we need up there, including space reporters.”

The National SpaceKids Press Squad Competition will award eight children ages 8 to 12 and one parent or guardian a two-day, all-expenses paid trip to the Space Coast. There they will be able to do something most professional journalists have yet to do, tour Blue Origin’s Merritt Island rocket factory, home to the New Glenn rocket Jeff Bezos has said will have its first launch attempt from Cape Canaveral later this year.

The winners will also visit the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, including its new Gateway attraction tied to commercial space endeavors. It’s home to a New Shepard simulator that opened last December.

And the contest also promised training “from a real-life reporter,” to give them TV journalism lessons. With those skills, the “Press Squad” will interview Blue Origin engineers, spacecraft designers and managers about their careers.


“We hope that their local communities will pick up the story, and just spread the word across the country that space is for everyone,” Sharon Hagle said. “What we’re trying to do at SpaceKids Global is bring the possibilities of space to kids everywhere, and we want to make learning fun again, and this is a great example of how to do it.”

If the stars align, they also will interview and watch the Hagles on their return flight to space on Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket. The Hagles would launch from Texas, and the contest winners would be covering the launch remotely from Blue Origin’s Rocket Park complex in Florida.

“They’re at mission control. They’ll have a live feed. They’ll be able to see everything,” she said. “They’ll actually be sitting at one of the monitors, and they’ll have their press reporter credentials on. So I mean, we’re gonna make this really special for them.”

The Hagles were on the fourth crewed New Shepard flight on March 31, 2022, for a quick suborbital trip to space, paying Blue Origin an undisclosed amount of money. Marc Hagle is president and CEO of commercial property company Tricor International Corp. The couple live in Winter Park and have a philanthropic hand in several Orlando-area ventures.


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