How To Become a Voyage Community – The Onboarding Process

Location of the Sun, and the orbits from the Asteroid Belt to Pluto. in Corpus Christi, Texas. Click on the image to zoom

After carefully reviewing this website, a community can explore permanent installation of a Voyage exhibition by having a preliminary phone conversation with the Voyage National Program Director, Dr. Jeff Goldstein. You can schedule a conversation with Jeff by emailing him at: The conversation will allow us to assess if the community understands the nature of the exhibition, and the requirements for site, cost, and installation.

A community that is deemed a good fit for this program can then more formally explore installation of an exhibition via the 6-Step ‘Onboarding Process’ that is covered on this webpage. This process includes: 1) assessing if there is a viable local site for a 1 to 10-billion scale model Solar System; 2) submission of an Implementation Plan for review and approval; 3) submission of a Letter of Site Authorization; and 4.) a determination of total expected cost, and submission of a Funds Assessment. Once these 4 steps are addressed to the satisfaction of the Voyage National Program Team, the community can move forward with: 5) the purchase of a Voyage exhibition through a formal contract. The final step 6 addresses shipping of the exhibition and installation requirements.

Each of the 6 steps described in more detail below is associated with a password-protected page. All pages have the same password, and entering the password on any page should automatically grant you access to the other pages. A preliminary conversation with the Voyage National Program Director is required before password access to the pages below will be granted.


Step 1. Identifying a Viable Site for Voyage in Your Community
The Voyage exhibition is a 1 to 10-billion scale model of the Solar System, requiring a reasonably linear 2,000 ft (600 m) walking path. The scale of the exhibition cannot be changed to suit a specific site. There are specific pedagogical objectives for the visitor experience that dictate why the 1 to 10-billion scale is adopted, and all exhibition storyboards, and supplemental Voyage education materials (the Grade K-12 Curriculum and Tour Brochure), are designed to this scale.

An important note on Voyage‘s Scale:
Often a community interested in installing a model of the Solar System has a scale in mind that may not derive from a careful look at maximizing the learning experience for the visitor. Often a scale results from a creative marketing approach – a long drive from well known point A to well known Point B, or the Sun the size of an existing spherical structure. But an exhibition first and foremost should be focused on the educational experience for the visitor – the learning objectives. We invite you to read the Voyage’s 1 to 10-Billion Scale page for a deep dive into why the 1 to 10-billion scale is so important from the standpoint of maximizing the visitor experience.

To determine if there is a viable local site for the exhibition, we ask your community to provide a possible location for the Sun. We will then superimpose the location of the Sun and the orbits of the eight planets (Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune), the dwarf planet Pluto, and the Asteroid Belt, on a Google Earth map of your community. As an example, see the map above for the outer Solar System in Corpus Christi, TX. The map will allow you to see if the orbits intersect an appropriate walking path. The idea is that the 13 exhibition stanchions would be installed at the intersections of the orbits and the walking path. For the Corpus Christi example above, the walking path is along the sea wall. Working with you, we can also try multiple locations for the Sun, and help you assess site options.

Go to: Identifying a Viable Site for Voyage page


Step 2. Voyage Application – Submission of an Implementation Plan
A community interested in installing Voyage is typically reflective of a consortium of local stakeholder organizations, with one designated as the lead. The lead organization could be a school district, a museum or science center, a university, a community-based non-profit, or a local government.The submission of an Implementation Plan by the community’s lead institution, working in concert with the other stakeholders, is required. The Plan demonstrates how the exhibition and educational materials will be put to work to address the Voyage Key Objectives, hopefully in perpetuity:

Key Objectives

  • provide exhibition visitors a conceptual understanding of Earth’s place in space, and the nature of worlds across our Solar System, through use of high precision models, text, imagery, and activities promoting inquiry-based exploration
  • extend and enhance existing informal science and STEM education experiences to outdoor spaces
  • foster a community engagement model for STEM education, with the means to engage: students in grades K-16; educators across grades K-12; families; and the general public
  • foster experiences and programming that are strategic, addressing a community’s educational goals in STEM education; systemic, addressing the curriculum across local school districts; and sustainable, providing content and resources on an ongoing basis
  • create a network of Voyage Communities, and foster inter-community exchange of ideas for educational programming

We are looking for communities that do not just install the exhibition as a passive experience, but through collaboration with other local area stakeholders, will put Voyage to work through, e.g., guided tours, self-guided tours, and classroom-based pre- and post- visit lessons on Solar System science and exploration.  We recognize that individual stakeholder organizations have unique strategic objectives, and an array of educational, marketing, and business assets tailored to their strategic objectives. We invite a community to make use of these assets in their Implementation Plan, which means that each community will likely submit a plan that reflects the uniqueness of their community.

More generally, Voyage is a program of the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education (NCESSE), and we embrace a Learning Community Model for STEM education, which should be reflected in the Implementation Plan.

Go to: Voyage Application page


Step 3. Letter of Site Authorization
The community’s lead institution may not have legal authority to install Voyage on the proposed site. A Letter of Site Authorization (we provide a template) is therefore required, which is signed by the institution with legal authority over the site and grants approval for installation of the exhibition. It may be the case that different organizations have such legal authority over different segments of the 2,000 ft walking path for Voyage, which would require a separate letter for each segment.

Go to: Letter of Site Authorization page


Step 4. Cost Determination and Possible Fundraising Assistance
The contractual cost is determined through the community’s choice of exhibition type (Mark I or Mark II); if any Upgrade Packages are desired (available only for the Mark II); and if the community would like any Supplemental Programming delivered through the Journey Through the Universe program and conducted by a National Team of researchers and educators – which could comprise some or all of the exhibition’s opening event activities. (See a list of the Journey through the Universe opening event activities in Washington, DC; Houston, TX; Corpus Christi, TX; and Kansas City, MO.)

Additional one time costs that are borne separately by the community include shipping and installation. We will work with the community to help determine these added costs. Note:

  • the cost of crating the exhibition is already included in the cost of the exhibition.
  • the community is responsible for securing a vendor for installation of the exhibition. This in fact may require little to no added cost if a facilities maintenance department of one of the stakeholder organizations takes this on as part of their operational costs.

Additional possible annual costs borne by the community include: regularly scheduled cleaning and inspection of the exhibition (we recommend cleaning be done at least once every two weeks); insurance; and the cost of any programming conducted regularly by local stakeholder organizations – which should be addressed in the Implementation Plan.

All these costs need to be part of your community’s budgeting considerations, which should result in a budget that details two phases: i) purchase and installation, and ii) annual operating expenses. Your community will then need to assess what funding sources are available to support both phases, and the timeline for securing those funds.

As is the case for the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP), the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education will consider providing fundraising assistance for a community that demonstrates need.  We are good at it, and as a non-profit our motivation is clear – to promote meaningful and sustainable STEM education experiences at the local level (see our Core Beliefs).

We will consider a community’s request for fundraising assistance, but only for the baseline cost – the contractual cost. A request will be assessed on a case-by-case basis, and take into account the proposed program scope detailed in the Implementation Plan and how it addresses Voyage’s Key Objectives; the community’s level of funding commitment for annual operating expenses; and the availability of the Center’s staff resources for fundraising.

Go to: Cost Determination and Possible Fundraising Assistance page


Step 5. Purchasing a Voyage Exhibition
Purchase of a Voyage exhibition is executed through a contract that defines costs, deliverables, and roles and responsibilities. The contract also includes formal identification of stanchion locations on a high resolution map. On contract signing, 50% of the total contractual cost us due, and the community is put in the queue for exhibition fabrication. The final 50% of the contractual cost is due on receipt and inspection of the exhibition at the community’s ship-to site.

Note: fabrication of a Voyage Mark II exhibit requires contracts in place from at least 10 communities in order to start a fabrication run.

Go to: Purchasing a Voyage Exhibition page


Step 6. Shipping and Installation
We will work with the community to determine a shipping schedule. We will provide an installation manual that requires the footing of each stanchion (which extends below ground level) to be embedded in concrete. The community will identify stanchion locations with a GPS handheld device to ensure accurate placement.

Go to: Shipping and Installation page

Hosted & Managed by: Drew Roman

Design by: Drew Roman & WooThemes