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Laura Shepard Churchley Visits Principia School

Upper School and College alum, Laura Shepard Churchley (US’65, C’69), recently visited the School to talk about her trip to space aboard Blue Origin’s Shepard spacecraft. Churchley is the daughter of Alan Shepard, America’s first astronaut to fly into space, and followed in her father’s footsteps on December 11, 2021. 

While touring the School earlier this spring, Churchley met with students from Early Childhood through Upper School. Churchley shared details from her journey into space, stoking students’ curiosity and answering their burning questions about space travel, rockets, and what it felt like to experience zero gravity. 

Churchley’s brief excursion into space holds a special significance to her because it honored her father’s legacy. The 10-minute flight included a six-person crew, marking Blue Origin’s third passenger mission into space aboard the “New Shepard,” named after Alan Shepard’s famous suborbital NASA flight. 

As chair of the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation Board of Trustees, Churchley loves to encourage students to pursue STEM activities and space exploration. “My father always said that you would be the next generation to advance space travel,” she said to students.

After her talk with each grade level and a read-aloud of Goodnight Moon to the youngest space enthusiasts, students were given the unique opportunity to create postcards that will travel aboard Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket on its next journey to space—the postcards depict what students think space will look like in the future.

Enjoy this video of Churchley's April talk at the Upper School—along with an online visit from Blue Origin engineer and alum Kevin Pratt (US'00, C'04).