Vance Ablott Selected New Chief for Va.'s Challenger Center

The space education project taps a former Houston center chief

An Alexandria, Va.-based organization dedicated to encouraging students to pursue careers in science is getting a new headmaster.

Vance Ablott has been named the new president and CEO of the Challenger Center for Space Science Education. He is now general manager for the Space Center Houston, which acts as a visitor and education center for NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston.

The appointment is good news for the center according to Ablott's predecessor Doug King, who left the center in June to lead the Association of Technology Business Councils in Vienna, Va., part of WT's parent company.

King, a member of the selection committee, praised Ablott's commitment to education.

Founded in 1986 by the families of the last Challenger crew, the center uses space exploration to excite middle school-aged students about science, math and technology. It reaches about a quarter of a million youngsters each year. At the 25 Challenger Learning Centers, students cap several weeks of classroom study with a half-day field trip to "fly" a simulated space mission in a child-sized spacecraft.

Before joining Space Center Houston in 1989, Ablott had a 20-year career with Walt Disney where he assisted in the development of Tokyo Disneyland, the Gene Autry Western Heritage Museum, and the Space Center Houston, among other projects.

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