Tuesday, August 5, 2014

International Space Camp, Part 2: Rockets, Helicopter Crashes, Egg-stronauts, and Lunar Missions

Had to stop for lunch, but now back to Space Camp. Brace yourself for the pictures!

The next day (Monday) was packed full of activities. Our first task of the day was to build our rockets. This was fun (there's that word again), and after carefully following the directions we were prepared to blast off our creations the next morning. After building our rockets, we changed and headed to Aviation Challenge. Here we had the opportunity to zip line to safety and properly exit a "crashed" helicopter (a helio dunker). 
Building rockets with Darleen Sutton, South Carolina TOY

Ready for liftoff! 

Aviation Challenge

Loading the helio dunker

Exiting to safety! 

After lunch, we toured the Rocket Park at Space Camp before training for our lunar simulation mission. There are several models of rockets that have been used at different stages of NASA's history - and of course Pathfinder, the model space shuttle on display at the center of Space Camp. It's the only place in the world where you can see an orbiter, solid rocket boosters, and fuel tank displayed together.
With Pathfinder

The memorial to Miss Baker, the first U.S. animal
to survive space travel.
Where's Berkeley?

Rocket Park

Juno, the rocket that launched with Miss Baker and Abel

A vehicle designed for the terrain on the moon

Saturn IV model 
Team Destiny with the Lunar Module

We then prepared for our lunar mission. This one is a little "futuristic" since it is based more on what NASA will be doing (hypothetically) in the future. My role in this mission was going to have me not only preparing the orbiter for liftoff but weaving in and out of very small openings to work on the the lunar station. All in a big, puffy space suit.
The Orion orbiter

Altair, attached to the station (I had to crawl through the small
tube connecting the two)

Rising Star module where we would "dock" and get
suited for our mission in space

Hydroponics lab inside Rising Star

Another view

Mission Control of the future!

After being assigned our new status for our lunar mission, we went to the Educator Resource Center (ERC) for a teamwork activity on ablative shielding. Each small group had to "purchase" materials (ranging from pasta to aluminum foil) to create a shield sturdy enough to withstand enough heat to prevent our egg-stronaut from being breakfast for dinner. 
He's gonna fry!!!

On Tuesday, we started at the Homer Hickam Launch Pad to send our rockets into the unknown. More on Homer in an upcoming post, but he is a native of McDowell County, West Virginia that wrote "Rocket Boys" and was a NASA engineer. Most of us successfully launched our rockets and retrieved them (mine is either decorating a tall tree in Huntsville or didn't sustain the impact upon landing). Our next outdoor activity of the morning was Area 51, where we worked in small groups to complete strategy and team building exercises. 
Where's Berkeley?

Team Destiny with their rockets

Last time I saw my rocket in one piece...


Team activity where we had to use three board to walk across

How hard is it to bring a hula hoop down to the ground? Try it sometime!
After lunch, it was time for team Destiny to fast forward to the year 2052 and complete our lunar mission! I was a mission specialist on board the lunar orbiter Orion, that was assigned to complete maintenance on lunar space station. Sounds fun and exciting (it was), but those big, squishy astronaut suits (and helmets) are difficult to move around in when you have gravity working against you. Even though you wear a vest with pockets for ice packs, it get very steamy in there! Couple that with a pair of moon boots and some screechy headgear to communicate with mission control, and you've got a recipe for "lost in space."
Think this bear can get us off the ground?

Ready for countdown!

Control panel in Altair

Big white suit :-)

Walking carefully up a very narrow
ladder wearing a lot of heavy gear! 

Fixing a broken window on the lunar space
station with the Texas TOY

Connecting wires inside the station

Looking for our checklist. The lighting just made it more intense :-)

Once our lunar mission was complete, it was time to head back to the ERC to save some more eggs! Our small groups had to build a Mars rover that would allow the egg-stronaut to land safely after being dropped from afar and then roll to its destination. Our group created the safest, most cost efficient rover :-)

Our team and rover (with Virginia TOY Melissa Porfirio, Massachusetts
TOY Anne Marie Ocheyack and Northern Mariana Islands TOY Paul Miura

The winning proposal
That evening we had our gift exchange. Each teacher was asked to bring small mementos (such as a lapel pin) that represented their state for each of the participants. This was a very meaningful way to bring back a little something from each teacher. 

Gift Exchange

It was a little like Space Camp "Trick or Treat" :-)

...And those are days 3 and 4 of Space Camp in a nut...I mean egg shell. The middle days were most busy and action packed of the week. However, as with almost everything, the best was yet to be!  

1 comment:

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