March 9, 2020

Boulder, CO

On March 3, Dr. Michael Schmidt of Sovaris Aerospace presented a lecture at the Next Generation Suborbital Researchers Conference entitled, “The First Rwandan in Space: How Commercial Spaceflight can Advance Positive Social Change.”

In 2012, Adrien Niyonshuti rose from the ashes of the Rwandan genocide to compete as a cyclist in the London Olympics. He re-emerged four years later to enter the 2016 Olympics in Rio. But his journey was not simple. Adrien had lost 60 family members on his mother’s side alone (including six of his brothers) to that single year of harsh brutality. Through the help of many, Adrien and his teammates have now risen beyond their tragedy to inspire others around the world through cycling.

For several years, now, Dr. Michael  has been a medical and performance advisor to the Rwandan National Cycling team. Dr. Schmidt has assembled a team of collaborators that intend to help the Rwandans take yet one more step beyond the genocide and have Adrien become the first Rwandan in space via suborbital spaceflight.

This collaboration of Sovaris Aerospace, Team Africa Rising, Space for Humanity, Gratis 7 Media Group Foundation, and Apogeo Spatial seeks to use this mission to inspire. For the Rwandans, it will further show how one can attain the unimaginable through hard work and the support of others. It will show what’s possible. For Adrien Niyonshuti, he will glimpse the Earth as never before (overview effect) and take this message of the sacredness of our planet around the world. For the commercial spaceflight community, we birth our new world of citizen space travelers, sharing an enlightened message of how spaceflight can be used to inspire, educate, and build human connection. And we will become part of the next documentary film on Adrien’s journey of hope.