Space Foundation Press Releases

Space Foundation Selects United States Air Force Academy as Recipient of 2024 Athena Education Award

Written by: Space Foundation Editorial Team

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — March 14, 2024 — Space Foundation, a nonprofit organization founded in 1983, offering information, education and collaboration for the global space ecosystem, today announced that U.S. Air Force Academy has been selected as the recipient of the 2024 Athena Education Award. The award will be presented during the annual Space Symposium, to be held April 8-11 at The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs.

Established in 2021, the Athena Education Award recognizes the spirit, leadership and commitment of a steadfast partner to Space Foundation’s global education mission. The award honors their support in providing educational programs that build science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics (STEAM) engagement and allow the space leaders of tomorrow to take part in the ever-expanding global space economy.

“For decades, U.S. Air Force Academy has been an invaluable partner in Space Foundation’s education initiatives. From volunteer efforts at our Discovery Center to funding our Audience with an Astronaut program, its contributions have been instrumental in advancing our mission to make space education accessible to all,” said Melissa Patton, Space Foundation vice president of education. “By expanding access to space education, U.S. Air Force Academy is creating opportunities for today’s youth, making it more than deserving of this award.”

Through its generous contributions of time, artifacts and cadet volunteers at events such as Space Foundation Discovery Center and Space Symposium, U.S. Air Force Academy has played a crucial role in fostering space education. Notably, its sponsorship of the Audience with an Astronaut program has left a lasting impact, inspiring the next generation of space pioneers.

Audience with an Astronaut initially catered to regional students, offering them the chance to interact in person with a retired NASA astronaut. The program has since expanded its reach, now offering virtual sessions that attract participants from across the globe. This expansion has provided hundreds of classrooms and online audiences worldwide with an enriching experience, offering insights into the skills and experiences required to lead space missions.

About Space Symposium

Space Symposium, hosted by Space Foundation since 1984, is the premier assembly for the global space ecosystem. The live event, held in Colorado Springs, Colorado, is widely attended by commercial and government leaders, professionals, entrepreneurs, and teachers around the globe. To learn more about Space Symposium, visit

About Space Foundation

Space Foundation is a nonprofit organization founded in 1983, offering information, education and collaboration for the global space ecosystem. Driven by partnerships, Space Foundation unites the entire spectrum of stakeholders — business, government, education and local communities — through support from corporate members, sponsors, fundraising and grants. Visit Space Foundation at, and follow us on FacebookXInstagramLinkedIn and YouTube.


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Tags: Space Foundation, Space Symposium, Athena Education Award, United States Air Force Academy, STEM, STEAM, space ecosystem, space education, space-to-Earth industries, space economy, lifelong learning, educational programs, Space Foundation Discovery Center, Audience With an Astronaut, Symposium 365

Media Contacts:

Rich Cooper
Vice President, Strategic Communications & Outreach
Space Foundation
(202) 596-0714
[email protected]

Dottie O’Rourke
TECHMarket Communications
(650) 344-1260
[email protected]