Under the Stars

U.S. Borax is ready to help you discover outer space!

Journey on a different space mission each week and spend memorable, quality time with your family learning about the skies above us. Then, participate in the challenge to win prizes. (Anyone can participate, but prizes are open to U.S. residents only.)

Have fun... and enjoy the trip!

How It Works

  1. Each week a new challenge is posted here. Simply click the "Go for Challenge" button to accept your challenge.
  2. Choose the category of your next mission.
    • For the creative people: Submit a drawing
    • For the curious people: Answer a question
    • For the extra curious people: Answer multiple challenge questions
  3. Fill in the participation form under each challenge and submit your challenge responses.
  4. All applicants that have submitted a challenge response will receive an email when the weekly challenge is posted by your space commander. Remember to add to your spam filter so you won’t miss anything!
  5. Winners will be selected from all qualifying U.S. entries at the close of the challenge. For the best chance of winning, participate in all missions during the four weeks.

Challenge Schedule

Challenge 1: The Moon
Challenge 2: The International Space Station


Challenge 3: Our Galaxy


Challenge 4: The Constellations

Bonus Review Questions


Although anyone can participate in the challenge, prizes are only available to U.S. residents. Each accomplished mission will be entered into a drawing for one of these fantastic prizes:

  • 5 Celestron telescopes
  • 5 Celestron stargazing binoculars
  • 5 family memberships to the Antelope Valley Astronomy Club
  • 5 family memberships to the Kern County Astronomy Club
  • 5 family memberships to the San Bernardino Astronomers Clubs
  • 5 family memberships to the Los Angeles Astronomical Society
  • 10 - $50 gift vouchers at The NASA Space Store
  • 20 spacecraft Lego kits
  • 40 solar system canvas prints

About Benoît Laplante, our commander

Benoît Laplante has been part of the Rio Tinto team for more than 30 years and is currently a Procurement Business Partner for Rio Tinto. In addition to his career in corporate purchasing administration, he has had a completely different journey since 1998 in the wonderful world of space, where he is a space mission specialist and pilot.

This passion for aviation and space has been passed down from father to son. Benoît grew up during the first space flight programs in the United States—the Mercury and Gemini missions which enabled NASA to make its first spacewalks. From an early aged he was interested in rockets and lunar modules and dreamed of going into space as an astronaut, but it seemed out of reach. So, he turned to a professional career in administration. But fate had other plans!

In 1996, Benoît met Chris Hadfield, an astronaut from Canada, on an airplane flight. The Canadian astronaut was returning from his first space mission, which was docking the American shuttle Atlantis with the Russian space station Mir. He was the first Canadian mission specialist to visit Mir station. The two space enthusiasts immediately bonded and developed a solid friendship. In fact, it was Chris who proposed that Benoît become an ambassador for space missions. Benoît did not hesitate for a second to accept! In order to accept the role, he had to obtain his commercial pilot license and study aerospace engineering at the University of Texas. He accomplished all of this, while still continuing his job with Rio Tinto.

Thanks, Commander Ben!

U.S. Borax, part of Rio Tinto, is a global leader in the supply and science of borates—naturally-occurring minerals containing boron and other elements. We are 1,000 people serving 500 customers with more than 1,700 delivery locations globally. We supply 30% of the world’s need for refined borates from our world-class mine in Boron, California, about 100 miles northeast of Los Angeles.  Learn more about Rio Tinto.

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