Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Space Camp


Space Camp! You saw the movie, you dreamed of wearing that snazzy jumpsuit, admit it. Space Camp provides educational programs for space-enthusiasts of all ages, including residential programs, aircraft themed Aviation Challenge camps, and outdoor oriented X-Camp programs, all with the intent to promote science, aviation and exploration.

According to some sources, the idea was launched in 1977 by Dr. Wernher von Braun himself, when he noted youngsters taking notes in the public rocket center, and commented: "We have band camp, football, cheerleading; why don't we have a science camp?" Organizers thus used the US space program as a basis to encourage children in the areas of mathematics and science, beginning operations in 1982.

Space Camp
Habitat 1 - Click to see the whole Space Camp gallery!

Today, the Huntsville operation still offers programs for children and teenagers, and has expanded into offerings for adults, even up to corporate retreats and special programs for educators. Space Camp has its own Underwater Astronaut Trainer for neutral buoyancy exercises, full-size Space Shuttle and ISS module mockups (along with accompanying Mission Control facilities), and their other simulators include:
  • Project Mercury Multi-Axis-Trainer(MAT) to simulate disorientation
  • 1/6 Chair to simulate the Lunar surface… much like my last study!
  • 5DF Chair to simulate the "frictionless" environment of space in five degrees of freedom
  • Space Shot to simulate liftoffs.
  • G-Force Accelerator to simulate G-Forces experienced during take-off and atmospheric re-entries.

Space Camp
Heathers at the Shuttle Simulator

In addition to their usual habitats, they’ve also added a new Mars program, with a separate "Vallis Marineris" habitat for red planet participants. Sounds like such fun, doesn’t it? If you’ve ever had an interest in signing up for a Space Camp program, this summer is definitely the time!

In addition to all their other fun rides, attractions and space artifacts, LucasFilm Ltd. will be bringing the Star Wars Exhibit this summer. The huge collection features costumes, props and models from all six films in the iconic Star Wars saga, while exploring how science plays a part in the storytelling.

Star Wars Exhibit
Famous Space Camp attendees including Tom Hanks and the rest of the cast & crew of Apollo 13 prior to filming, Charlize Theron, Kris Kristofferson, Chelsea Clinton, Mary-Kate & Ashley Olsen, and perhaps most interestingly -- Dorothy Metcalf-Lindenburger!

Dottie went to Space Camp in 1989 while in high school, and is the first Space Camp alumna to become an actual astronaut, having been selected as a Mission Specialist in NASA’s 2004 selection. She is currently assigned to the crew of STS-131, which is scheduled to launch this coming March!