Space Camp 2016 – Part one by Chris Gallen

by User Not Found | Aug 18, 2016

ASG student Chris Gallen pictured at Space Camp 2016We travelled across the globe to an amazing place packed with awesome space artefacts. Upon arrival all the students from 21 different nationalities, each gave a 4 minute presentation. After that, the next 6 days we were completely immediately immersed in a fast paced adventure of experiments missions and challenges.

The camp was organised with military precision and we were broken up into teams of about 15 people. We did everything as a team including eating, presentations/talks, sleeping, challenges, simulations and missions. I was in team ISIDIS and we were given team leaders (instructors) Jake and Meghan.

Every time our team did an engineering challenge activity we would split up into groups of 4 people. In my engineering group I worked with 2 Dutch and one German student. Throughout the week we went from 7am till 10pm facing many challenges and missions. We were too focussed to get tired. Our communication, quick thinking science skills were challenged regularly and at the same time it was fun.

It was an action packed week but a few of the highlights for me were the simulated zero gravity activities at the bottom of the 10m scuba tank and watching my groups rocket that we had spent all week working on soar into the air, deploy perfectly and come down unscathed. It was an amazing experience.

Below is a brief recap of each day’s events

Friday 

Today I finally arrived in the USA. After a very long 16 hours and not much sleep we arrived in the US. at 13.40 on Friday the 8th. This was in theory 40 minutes after we had left Sydney at 1.00 also on Friday the 8th. Fort Worth Airport was enormous and we had to take a train to the next terminal where we would fly from Dallas to Huntsville. We were greeted by a space camp leader at the airport who lead the three of us to a group of other space campers already gathered at the airport.

In the bus we could see space camp coming up from about a kilometre away due to the 50 meter high rocket with flashing lights outside the main building. The actual camp and facilities were very big with warehouses and hangers and buildings all branded with NASA logos. We arrived at the camp and met some of the other students already. After a quick dinner we set up our beds and went to sleep exhausted from all the travel and excited for what was to come tomorrow.

Saturday 

Today we woke up to an unexpected breakfast. We were offered fried chicken breasts, soft drinks and cereal. After breakfast the group of international students moved over to the Gforce simulator and Space Shot rides. The Gforce simulator spun everybody on the ride around so fast that the seat that they were strapped to was pushed up and we were stuck against the wall feeling a force of 4Gs. The Space Shot was another theme park ride that shot a group of people strapped to seats high into the air really fast as if taking off in a rocket.

After this the group began to prepare for the opening ceremony. Each state from the USA had a teacher who introduced their state then each country got up and introduced themselves and their county. We did an Australian quiz and handed out Vegemite packets, Tim Tams and little koalas/kangaroo wooden magnets. After the introduction ceremony we had dinner in the museum hall. So far I have enjoyed meeting all the other students from other countries and learning more about them and their country.

Sunday

After breakfast we swam in the lagoon and participated in rafting activities which was a pleasant break from the heat. After spending the morning in the water we went into the Saturn V museum for the afternoon and learnt all about NASAs missions and rocket building technology.

The centre piece was a real Saturn V rocket, 120 metres long lying on its side with the museum building built around it. We learnt that the 5 jet engines used on the Saturn V were so powerful that if fired individually they would vibrate and disintegrate and that only by arranging them in special formation so that they would not disintegrate.

I also managed to set the daily high score for an interactive moon landing simulation. Later in the day we had our mission briefs for the week and I had an introduction to scuba diving course preparing me for the 0-gravity scuba session that I chose to do.

Monday 

Today we started our first mission training. I was a flight engineer on board the ISS (International Space Station). My job was to follow the direction of the PAYCOM to help solve anomalies in the different systems we experienced and also to conduct some scientific experiments in space .

We also went to ‘Area 51’ for outdoor team building and leadership activities.  We then went back to the museum and learnt about the first NASA programs including Mercury Gemini and Apollo. It was interesting to listen to people who had worked at NASA at the time. Then we went and experienced what it would be like to walk on the moon with a. 1/6 gravity simulator. I found it quite challenging to walk normally. We also started a rocket building team challenge activity and attended a talk on rocket technology and the sorts of fuel they use.

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