Few subjects are as universally appealing to curious youngsters as space. And that sense of wonderment and thirst to learn more is precisely what Richard Schweiger, a local dad-of-two, had in mind when created the concept for the animated kids’ TV show “Space Racers.” The series focuses on the scientific exploration and investigation of space, and hooks viewers with engaging stories of young spaceship cadets accomplishing tasks together after tackling numerous difficulties. At present, “Space Racers” is now on public television across the US and has been translated into 15 languages around the world.
“The main thing is to raise children’s interest in science,” Schweiger says of his goals for the show. “There are a lot of great events and activities going on around the city, and hopefully after watching the show, [kids] would want to participate in those educational activities to learn more about science.”
The idea for the plot of “Space Racers”—which is aimed at preschool-aged children and follows young spaceship cadets at the Stardust Bay Space Academy as they explore the Solar System, learning about scientific investigation and observation—came to Schweiger when he saw his own sons’ happy faces while experiencing the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum in Washington DC. “An idea suddenly hit me: ‘Why don’t we produce a TV show where the characters are spaceships?’ I haven’t seen that anywhere before,” he recalls, also noting that his sons—who are now 9 and 11—then-interest in TV shows about vehicles also contributed to this creative catalyst.
Schweiger, who served as executive producer of the series, shared his idea with a college friend who had a Master’s degree in creative writing, and started raising money immediately after setting up the production company in January 2010. Later, Schweiger reached out to NASA and successfully persuaded them to work on an animated TV show for preschoolers for the first time.
Since the show’s debut last fall, it’s been a great success—case in point: Even though Schweiger’s own kids are a bit older than the intended demographic for “Space Racers,” they’re still loyal fans of the show. “Even if they are older than the target audience now, they went through the process with me from the very beginning,” Schweiger says. “So they’re still very passionate about the show and help me with a lot of related events.”
And while his current job as a consultant and principal with Strategy& (part of the PwC network of firms), keeps him “very, very busy,” Schweiger says he still prioritizes spending weekends with his family, engaging in cultural activities, sports, and more—and by asking his boys for advice about “Space Racers.” “I work a lot, but I tried to make sure my weekends are fixed with my kids and try to go to a lot of afterschool activities with them,” Schweiger explains. “Not only do I try to spend more time with my children and be a good father, but my kids have taught me a lot as well… They inspired me with the idea to produce the show, actually.”
To learn more about “Space Racers,” visit spaceracers.org.