STEAM advocate and business pioneer John Shoffner is a life-long space enthusiast. Raised in southeast Kentucky, John’s fixation for art, science and space was ignited at an early age and it never left him. At eight-years-old, during the original space race, he formed a young astronauts club with his friends, where they turned cardboard boxes into space capsules. While space was his first passion, his small town dreams were never realized.
Despite a successful business career at the forefront of the fiber optics industry, John’s wild ambition to become an astronaut never escaped him.
In May 2023, John realized his dream of becoming an astronaut, serving as Pilot on Axiom Space Ax-2 mission to the International Space Station (ISS). The second private mission in history to the ISS launched on a Falcon 9 rocket aboard a SpaceX Dragon capsule. Throughout the duration of his mission, John hosted live events with schools around the world. From Middlesboro, KY, to Ireland, Portugal and beyond, John brought students and their wide-eyed curiosity closer to space. During his mission, he captured educational videos to excite the next generation of space enthusiasts, facilitated an International Space Art and Poetry contest that garnered over 930 entries from 26 countries, and participated technology experiments that will shape the future of space exploration.
Today, John aims to showcase the value that space commercialization brings to Earth. With his mission behind him and ambition to establish progressive educational programs, John has launched the Perseid Foundation to build a STEAM program infused with growth mindset practices in select local schools. John wholeheartedly believes that the trajectory of his career would’ve been different had his interest in space been more aggressively nurtured in his formative years of 10-14.
The Perseid Foundation is appropriately named after the Perseid Meteor Shower, and pays tribute to John’s mother, Ann E Shoffner. She would call John each August, wherever he was in the world to remind him that it was time for the Perseid Meteor Shower. “This was her way of telling me to look to the heavens and that my future was out there, somewhere,” he recalls. If John can remind a student to live their purpose and encourage educators to nurture their calling, then he can fulfill the wonderful legacy Ann left behind.