Jeff Greason, CEO of Xcor Aerospace, a commercial space flight company, prepares a rocket for launch Monday at West Ward Elementary School in Killeen. Teacher Martin Demel and Principal Maureen Adams stand by as students await the test flight.

The CEO of an aerospace company working to make space flight an everyday experience brought inspiration to a new generation of exploration torchbearers Monday.

Jeff Greason, top executive at Xcor Aerospace, visited West Ward Elementary School classrooms, heard fifth-graders’ ideas for low-gravity experiments and took part in rocket launch testing.

This is Space Week at West Ward. Greason’s visit began a week of shuttle construction and mission simulations, visits from science experts and more air-propelled rocket launches.

West Ward Principal Maureen Adams has welcomed Xcor guests to the school for years, but Monday was the first visit for the company’s CEO.

“This company brings people who are passionate,” Adams said. “They have imagination. They dream, think and do.”

Greason told students he grew up in a small town in Oregon, studied math, science and engineering at California Institute of Technology and worked in the computer chip industry.

“I always loved space,” he told a group of fifth-graders, explaining that he left a lucrative job to join a start-up company aimed at designing and building a reusable vehicle to go to space regularly.

Fourteen years after its birth, the company continues to raise money and awareness while inventing rocket engines and systems. It is currently relocating from Mojave, Calif., to a closer desert environment near Midland.

West Ward Space Week continues with numerous activities during the school day and a family science night from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday.

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