world map showing participant locations with PERSIST logo. Pursuing Education, Research, Science, and Innovation in Space Together.


Like space exploration itself, the PERSIST Project is a multifaceted story of adaptability under emerging conditions. From a series of zoom sessions connecting participants across 10 countries to a virtual symposium for professional development and a podcast series exploring complex pathways in the pursuit of progress, the Project highlights the ways in which humans respond to changes in their environment and ultimately PERSIST.


Spring 2020 highlighted for the world what educators, researchers, scientists, and innovators have long recognized as the key component of progress: resilience in the face of change and uncertainty. The programs that have have evolved into the Project were initially separate initiatives introducing young scholars and professionals to the past, present, and future of space exploration led by U.S. efforts. Those initiatives - and the onground experiences at their centers - have had to adapt to fulfill goals when participants couldn’t be together in space.


PERSIST activities are, above all, responsive. The PERSIST Virtual Symposium was established to offer participants an opportunity to engage in the learning and networking they would have experienced at the NASA Intern event held annually here in Huntsville. The PERSIST Podcast Series is envisioned as a vehicle for sharing stories of resilience - highlighting the complex paths en route to progress.

In Summer 2019, two U.S. embassies, the U.S. to International Organizations Mission in Vienna (UNVIE) and the U.S. Embassy - Moscow, announced competitions to highlight the U.S. role in past, present, and future space exploration, as the nation celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Apollo mission and NASA prepared to launch the ARTEMIS mission.

UAH’s winning proposal, “Journey through Space and Time: The Past, Present, and Future of Space Exploration,” mapped out a series of activities covering the history and current state of space exploration; providing an in-depth, hands-on experience in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) activities; and, highlighting future space exploration by expanding on the celebration of Apollo 11’s 50th Anniversary and its historical connections to Huntsville and UAH.

In Fall 2019, UAH received awards for the Youth Space Program and the FLARE Young Astronauts Program, from UNVIE and U.S. Embassy - Moscow, respectively. Planning for national competitions with consular partners in Brazil, India, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, and Senegal, as well as Russia, is underway.

In Spring 2020, finalists for both programs were announced, and planning for the summer events in Huntsville was well underway. In March 2020, planning was put on hold. In May 2020, planning was halted indefinitely, as the world rushed to respond to the rapidly changing conditions created by the spread of Covid-19 on the global stage.

Fall 2020. Wait-and-see continues, with periodic check-ins to determine emerging conditions with our partner agencies and in the finalists’ countries of origin.

Spring 2021. Vaccines begin to roll out and tentative planning for Summer 2021 begins. Global conditions remain unstable, and variables including travel restrictions at the national and local levels impact options for participants in specific countries. Truncated experience planned for UNVIE participants, to attend Advanced Space Academy in September 2021.

Planning shifts to virtual options, and participants join live sessions across the summer months.

Fall 2021

  • Virtual Symposium planning begins.
  • Surges in Delta variant force postponement of September trip to U.S.
  • Participants begin to draft their symposium sessions for February 2022.