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Xtronaut Enterprises Launches With the Support of the University of Arizona, Cox Communications, and Planetary Resources

TUCSON, Ariz., Sept. 9, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Xtronaut Enterprises ("Xtronaut") recently launched with a mission to enhance and augment the education outreach associated with space exploration by developing innovative education and entertainment programs. Xtronaut's initial focus is on delivering enhanced STEM-related educational and public outreach products associated with NASA's OSIRIS-REx Asteroid Sample Return Mission, and then other global space missions.

Today Xtronaut announced that it has formed a partnership with Cox Communications, has received official support from the University of Arizona's Tech Launch Arizona (TLA), and has entered into a collaborative agreement with Planetary Resources.

Dante Lauretta, University of Arizona Professor of Planetary Science and OSIRIS-REx Principal Investigator, and Michael Lyon, space entrepreneur who worked at Space Adventures helping to organize the first tourist flights to the International Space Station and President of Lyon Capital Services, founded Xtronaut in response to budget reductions that eliminated the NASA-funded OSIRIS-REx Education and Public Outreach program.

"At its core, Xtronaut's programs link STEM education to actual space missions in a new and exciting way and create a pathway for students to pursue related learning and careers. Xtronaut was formed to develop innovative and creative approaches to further understanding of OSIRIS-REx and its science over the mission's 10 year duration," commented Professor Lauretta. "Our goal is to generate added interest and relevance for the science behind space exploration, and inspire students to learn and engage in science, math, and engineering."

Mr. Lyon, co-founder of Xtronaut Enterprises, said, "We plan to encourage interest and support for space exploration by expanding the notion of who is an explorer in today's world of robotic missions -- to include all the people involved in exploration -- scientists, engineers, educators, students, and the public as a whole -- not just the few fortunate enough to climb into a rocket. Only a few can be astronauts -- but we can all be Xtronauts! Xtronauts are those interested in Extreme, Extended, Exploration."

Xtronaut's core efforts involve developing and supporting educational kits that link STEM learning products to the actual science and engineering associated with OSIRIS-REx and other missions. The education kits will target classrooms and after school programs beginning in August 2015, and will include teacher and student workbooks, videos by leading scientists and engineers, online opportunities for students to connect to mission leaders, and hands-on experiments for each classroom. This STEM education program will be provided to schools free of charge, with the cost covered by sponsors and donors. Xtronaut is also developing space-themed computer games, museum exhibits, and other media productions.

Cox and Xtronaut have announced that they will be offering companies the unique opportunity to sponsor placement of the Xtronaut STEM Education Kits into schools, and also receive promotion through Cox Media outlets. Cox and Xtronaut are also jointly developing an App around the OSIRIS-REx Mission.

"Cox is very excited about our partnership with Xtronaut and is looking forward to seeing it come to life," said Lisa Lovallo, Market Vice President of Cox Communications. "This is a great opportunity for Cox to help bring STEM education into classrooms and make it relevant to actual space exploration. Leading the OSIRIS-REx mission is an incredible achievement for Arizona, and we are excited about bringing this experience into classrooms around the State and beyond by working with Xtronaut."

There is a strong demand in schools for Xtronaut's unique STEM education programs. Dr. Manuel Valenzuela, Superintendent of the Sahuarita Unified School District, near Tucson, Arizona, said, "Everyone at SUSD is excited about being part of this program! We see a great need for this type of program in schools today and we find the Xtronaut program quite innovative. Over the next year, we will be working with Xtronaut on their educational programs ahead of the full launch in schools in August 2015. This endeavor is a fantastic opportunity to connect our students to a real space mission, being led by a world-class university right down the road from our schools."

In addition to focusing on the OSIRIS-REx mission, Xtronaut has support from several other U.S. and international space missions to join the Xtronaut education program. Most recently, Xtronaut has aligned with the asteroid mining company Planetary Resources, Inc., of Redmond, Wash., to develop educational materials on the value of resources on asteroids and their application in space and on Earth. Chris Lewicki, President of Planetary Resources, commented, "We are excited to support Xtronaut's objective of connecting STEM education to real space exploration. We need the next generation of scientists, engineers, and creative thinkers to help chart our course into the Solar System. The Xtronaut educational program is a great way to get kids inspired to enter STEM disciplines."

Xtronaut today also announced that is has received official support from the University of Arizona's Tech Launch Arizona (TLA), and that TLA and Xtronaut have entered into a formal licensing agreement. TLA Director, Doug Hockstad, said, "Xtronaut represents an exciting, new venture that aligns with TLA's main objective to advance knowledge and inventions developed by the University into the general public. We support the educational and business initiatives of Xtronaut, and believe it will help enhance knowledge of the OSIRIS-REx mission managed by UA and support STEM education programs nationally."

Professor Lauretta concluded, "We want to get the public directly involved in the mission in a fashion that has not always been available in previous missions. If students can understand that there is a direct relationship between what they learn in the classroom and an actual mission of exploration, this can provide them with a pathway forward toward careers in science and engineering."

For more information about Xtronaut please visit Xtronaut.com

About Xtronaut Enterprises:

Xtronaut Enterprises was founded to provide enhanced educational and public outreach programs associated with the OSIRIS-REx Mission, as well as additional educational and outreach programs associated with other robotic space exploration missions. Xtronaut is led University of Arizona Professor of Planetary Science and OSIRIS-REx Principal Investigator Dante Lauretta and Michael Lyon, space entrepreneur and President of Lyon Capital Services.

About OSIRIS-REx

OSIRIS-REx will be the first U.S. mission to carry samples from an asteroid back to Earth. The OSIRIS-REx mission is scheduled to launch in 2016, rendezvous with asteroid Bennu in 2018, study it and collect a sample, and then return that sample to earth in 2023.The OSIRIS-REx mission is the third planetary science mission selected for development in NASA's New Frontiers Program. The OSIRIS-REx project is a partnership of the University of Arizona, NASA and the Lockheed Martin Company. For more information, please visit asteroidmission.org.

About the University of Arizona

As a public research university serving the diverse citizens of Arizona and beyond, the mission of the University of Arizona is to provide a comprehensive, high-quality education that engages our students in discovery through research and broad-based scholarship. For more information, please visit www.arizona.edu.

About Cox Communications:

Cox Communications is the third largest cable provider and a multi-service broadband communications company serving nearly 3 million residential and business product subscribers in Arizona (a product subscriber represents an individual service purchased by a customer). In metro Phoenix, Cox serves approximately 2.5 million product subscribers. In Southern Arizona, Cox serves approximately 400,000 product subscribers. Cox's 23,000 miles hybrid fiber coaxial cable network throughout Phoenix and Southern Arizona provides homes and businesses with digital television, high speed Internet, home networking, high-definition television and digital telephone service over its own nationwide IP network. In addition, Cox offers residential home security services. During the past nine years, Cox has topped numerous J.D. Power and Associates' studies of customer satisfaction, most recently receiving top honors for residential telephone & high speed Internet, and business data services and has received PC Magazine's "people's choice" award for the sixth time. Additionally, Cox High Speed Internet has been ranked #1 for the past eight years on the "Ranking Arizona-Best of Arizona Business" list. Cox Media is responsible for the sale of cable advertising throughout Arizona. Cox Communications is a wholly owned subsidiary of Cox Enterprises Inc and serves approximately 6 million customers nationwide. Additional information about Cox in Arizona is available at www.cox.com/arizona.

CONTACT: Media and Sponsorship Information: Professor Dante Lauretta Co-Founder, Xtronaut Enterprises, Inc. lauretta@xtronaut.com 1-520-626-1138 Michael Lyon CEO, Xtronaut Enterprises, Inc. mlyon@xtronaut.com 1-703-725-1240Source:Xtronaut Enterprises