FUTURE ASTRONAUT — Will Early recently attended a Space Camp in Georgia. Here is shaking hands with astronaut Doctor Don Thomas. Photo courtesy of Lisa Schmidt
Will Early of Conrad, recently attended a Space Camp at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center, home of Space Camp and NASA’s official
Visitor Information Center for Marshall Space Flight Center.
The weeklong educational program promotes science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), while training students and adults with hands-on activities and missions based on team work, leadership and decision-making.
Early was part of the AdvancedSpace Academy Program, which is specifically designed for high school trainees who have a particular interest in aerospace.
Early tells the I-O, “The Space Academy was great. It makes you want to be an astronaut.”He went on toadd, “This is one of the best things I have even done.”
He spent the week training with a team that flew a simulated Space Shuttle mission to the International Space Station (ISS).
“The best parts of camp were the mission and flight simulators,” Early said.
Once aboard the ISS, the crew participated in experiments and successfully completed an extra-vehicular activity (EVA), or space walk. Early and crew returned to earth in time to graduate with honors.
Space Camp crew trainers who lead each 16-member team must have at least a year of college, and the majority of staff are college graduates. Space Camp operates year-round in Huntsville, Ala. and uses astronaut training techniques to engage trainees in real-world applications of Stem subjects.
Students sleep in quarters designed to resemble the ISS and train in simulators like those used by NASA.
On the last day, Early was one of several campers to have lunch with astronaut Dr. Don Thomas who gave an inspiring speech to all of the campers.
Early was impressed that a person who has accomplished so much could still be so approachable, “He seemed down to earth,” he commented.
More than 600,000 trainees have graduated from Space Camp since its opening in Huntsville in 1982, including STS-131 astronaut Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburger.
Last year, children and teachers from all 50 states and 58 international locations attended Space Camp.