Space Camp - Day 1

Space Camp Campus Grounds, Huntsville, AL
Photo by Michael Formichelli
Space Camp: It's not just for kids.

The first thing many people I know think when they hear the words "Space Camp" is that it's something you miss out on if you don't go before you've graduated high school. I wanted to go to Space Camp since I was old enough to understand what it was but never got the chance while I was a kid. The desire to feel like an astronaut never left me, and when I found out that Space Camp had a program for adults I jumped at the chance.

My wife and I attended the Labor Day weekend session. We arrived on Friday, September 4th at the Huntsville airport not quite sure what to expect and a little nervous about what the experience would be like. Although the camp does offer adult programs, it was clear from the paperwork we filled out that Space Camp had kids in mind first and foremost. The day before our flight I found out that the sole accommodation available within the campus was a gender-segregated dorm which had to be shared with up to 9 other people (or so).  We weren't game for that, so we made arrangements to stay at the Huntsville Marriott instead (it shares the parking lot with the camp). Although we passed that challenge, we thought it might not bode well for what the weekend would be like.

Soon after we arrived (we made it right at the end of registration) we were launched into activities. There was a quick orientation, and we were sorted into two competing teams named after the space shuttles that were lost (Challenger and Columbia—my wife and I were on Columbia). Challenger and Columbia were to compete for mission badges throughout the weekend, with performance rated on how well the mission and training activities were completed.

After orientation and a group photo we were taken to a wooded area named "Area 51" for team building exercises named a "low ropes course." The course consisted of playing team games such as pretending we had to cross deadly, croc-infested water using only cinder blocks and 3 boards (for 8 people). There were no ropes involved, but it did help to get us acquainted with our new team mates. There's nothing quite like being smashed up against strangers while balancing on a wooden block to break the ice.

Endeavour trining module, Huntsville, AL
Photo by Michael Formichelli
After a cafeteria-style dinner we entered training for our first mission: Mission Alpha. If I had any reservations about what we signed up for they evaporated at the sight of the Space Shuttle Endeavour's training module. Seeing the front of the space shuttle up close, even knowing it was just a training module, filled me with excitement. It was a sensation that grew as we toured through the narrow spaces of the machine. My eyes lit up with the light gleaming off of the hundreds of switches and panels, all modeled after the real thing, that lay waiting inside.


After the mission training we were shown mission patches from previous space programs such as Mercury, Apollo, and the Space Shuttle missions, then we designed ours. The day ended shortly after that, and my wife and I retired to the Marriott full of excitement to await the next day's adventure and the launch of Mission Alpha...

Inside the Endeavour Training Module
Photo by Michael Formichelli

9/10/15- Had to make a correction. The original post said this was over Memorial Day weekend, it wasn't. It was Labor Day weekend. My apologies, and thanks to Antigone for the catch!

Comments

  1. Loved being on Team Columbia with you two!

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    1. We had a great time with you and the other team members as well. We worked great together!

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