Space Camp Days 3 & 4

Space Camp Day 3:

The day began with Charlie Mission.
ISS Simulator Module - Photo by Ellie Beck
For Charlie I was assigned to the International Space Station as a flight officer. My job was to execute some of the command procedures and run experiments which, in this case, included making a solid-mass precipitate in our imaginary microgravity.

We had a number of incidents go wrong during the mission, namely an atmospheric problem that lead to a fire, which in turn lead to all of us being dead. The situation highlighted just how dangerous space exploration can be and the importance of proper communication with Mission Control (which can offer effective solutions most of the time to those operating in orbit, it just didn't work out that way for us). On the more amusing side of things, our PAYCOM had to come on the module and sing "I'm a Little Teapot" to "ressurrect" us all. Pretty funny stuff...)

Inside the Endeavour simulator - Photo by Ellie Beck

 Okay, so Charlie Mission wasn't the best for team Columbia. Our space shuttle also suffered a little bit of a mishap and wound up crash-landing in the Florida Everglades. Only the ISS crew died, and we had fun... So, win?

After Charlie and lunch we got a tour of the newer simulators, including those made to simulate future missions such a a base that could be used as an outpost on Mars. Unfortunately, there had been a fire (a real one) in the newer shuttle simulator before we got there, so we never got to run a mission in it. It was a shame since it would have involved the payload bay and the Canada Arm, but such is life.
Payload Bay Simulator - Photo by Ellie Beck

Hydroponics - Photo by M. Formichelli
More Hydroponics - Photo by M. Formichelli

The modules were fairly extensive and included many practical innovations, like hydroponic farms, that will be needed to survive on another world.

Entertainment Station - Photo by M Formichelli

The facilities included almost everything you could imagine needing, including entertainment for the astronauts.

Photo by M Formichelli
Photo by M Formichelli

Sleeping arrangements would probably be bunks, since there would be gravity on Mars or the Moon, so this part of the module wasn't accurate, but the point was made.

Work Station -Photo by M Formichelli
Space Toilet -Photo by M Formichelli

Work stations, and of course, the space toilet will be vital equipment.

Robonaut! -Photo by M Formichelli

I'm not sure if we'd have a Robonaut unit with us on Mars or the Moon, but he was part of the exhibit (and is in present use on the ISS). Humanity's future on another world will, undoubtedly, involve our robot helpers, even if they don't include my main 'bot here.

After the simulator tour, and a bit of picture taking time, we had a team-building exercise involving a zip-line, then went back to the museum for some free exploration time which included seeing the Robot Zoo exhibit.

Photo by Michael Formichelli
Photo by Michael Formichelli

There was a brief, mostly failed attempt to see an IMAX film about space exploration (to my disappointment—Journey to Space was the name, I hope to see it one day), and then we went on a Docent Tour of the Saturn V rocket (a real one) they had inside one of the buildings. Our guide was Placide D. Nicaise, one of the engineers who actually worked on the Saturn V for the Apollo missions.
P.D. Nicaise - Photo by Antigone Klima

Getting to hear a detailed explanation of a Saturn V by one of the people who built it was beyond cool. It's incredible to imagine, but we really did go to the Moon and back on a 16k computer. Yeah, that's not an error, the Saturn V's computer had only 16k! It makes me wonder what Orion will achieve with our modern, giga and terabyte computers... but I digress.

Apollo Capsule- Photo by M Formichelli

The other highlight of this part of the museum was getting to see some of the real life equipment used in the Apollo program, which included the quarantine car the astronauts had to use when they got back (we didn't know if there would be space-germs or not), and one of the actual capsules.

The day ended on a high-note, literrally, as we finished by getting to use a device that simulated the gravity of the moon—the 1/6th Gravity Chair!

Day 4: The Final Day

The last day was bittersweet. We had our final team breakfast and headed out to launch the rockets we'd designed back on Day 2 (mine got caught in a tree). After that we had our final contest together, the "Space Bowl" (think Space Jeopardy), in which we competed directly against Team Challenger... and won! The final part of Day 4 was graduation, where we earned our wings for completing Space Camp, said our final goodbyes, and headed home.

All together Space Camp was an amazing experience, made all the better by the incredible team we had—Go Team Columbia! The best part about it may sound cliché, but my wife and I really did make some great friends that share our passion for space exploration. We're still in touch with many of them, and thanks to their efforts we've got the mission patch we designed at Space Camp coming in the mail soon. Who knows, maybe one day we'll have a Team Columbia Expedition 49 reunion!

Thank you to everyone who made this trip so special. You guys rock.


  1. Great Blog was fun to relive those 4 days while reading it!


    1. We had a fantastic time, and in a large part it was because the company was so good! Thank you and the rest of Team Columbia! You rock!


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