It was a blast!

Katy graduated from Space Camp yesterday.

Heath and I drove up to Hunstville Thursday as graduation was at 9 a.m. Friday. We stayed at the Marriott right next door and it was crawling with Space Camp related people who were attending the 30th anniversary celebration weekend.

Katy was on Team Aldrin and was pretty embarrassed that she couldn’t remember who Buzz Aldrin was. However, they had 10 hours of space history while at camp and I’m sure she now knows that and all kinds of other things, too.

Team Aldrin started out with 15 members but unfortunately one little girl got so homesick her parents came and picked her up early.

Yesterday was the 30th anniversary of Space Camp so there was lots going on.  They have several programs going on and separate graduations for each. So Katy’s graduation was strictly  Space Camp, the fourth and fifth grade program. There were three all-space teams, three space and robotics teams and two space and aviation teams. Graduation was held underneath the Pathfinder orbiter.

The kids lined up for the processional.

Astronaut Don Thomas spoke at the ceremony and he also talked to the kids earlier in the week. He was staying at our hotel and Heath saw him in the lobby but had no idea who he was.

Don Thomas speaks to graduates

Each graduate received a certificate and wings and the envelopes also included a team patch and photo CD if they were purchased. The camper operations manager whose name I can’t remember and Astronaut Thomas shook each graduate’s hand. The kids who had flight suits had their name badges on upside down all week and Thomas turned those over to signify they’ve completed the training.

Katy getting her envelope. Her name badge has been turned over!

There were several team and individual awards given. Katy team won for Best Mission Patch and received a special patch for that.

Katy’s team’s mission patch design.

The team that won the Commander’s Cup was so funny. They had to be pushed on stage then once they were up there had to be nudged off and no one said anything. I expected lots of cheering and excitement out of the kids but they were all pretty subdued. Maybe they were just tired. Katy was excited about her patch, though, and held it in the air.

Katy receiving her Best Mission Patch award
Look what I got!

One really neat thing happened. The 600,000th graduate was supposed to come through at some time this week. Keep in mind they have several programs with different graduations. Well, it just happened to be someone in Katy’s session. It was a little girl from Houston. She received a nice certificate and was invited to come back next year for free. That’s something that’s really just the luck of the draw. Whoever introduced it said sometimes the stars just line up right. The teams were all alphabetical and Katy’s team (Aldrin) was first. If the little girl in Katy’s team hadn’t gone home early, the numbers would have been shifted by one and the award would have gone to someone else. It was 30 years of things lining up just right for this one child. Imagine being number 599,999 or 600,0001!

So that was it for graduation!

So, what did they actually do this week? Well, according to the letter Katy got to give to her Girl Scout leader detailing activities that might go toward an award (I’ve already bought the Aerospace badge and am sewing it on her uniform)  she has done” a variety of things such as studying the history of space flight and attending lectures concerning propulsion theory, the physiological aspects of life in space and vehicle design and construction. She has built and launched a model rocket, helped design and construct a space station (it was actually a Mars colony) and participated in simulated space shuttle missions.” When I asked her what she learned she said “Alan Shepard peed in his pants”. Space flight is rough!

Here are some photos.

Katy and Seirra.

I found Sierra online while looking for some information. This is her first year as a crew trainer and she was a big help in finding books for Katy to read ahead of time. She also ran into Katy during the week and let me know how she was doing.

The 1/6 gravity simulator. This simulates walking on the moon.
Training on the five degrees of freedom chair
Practicing mission scripts.
The shuttle crew is ready for the first mission.
In the five degrees of freedom chair on her space walk doing her EVA — extra-vehicular activity.
Working with a fellow spacewalker to build something out of PVC pipe.
The second mission. Katy was capsule communications (cap comm) in mission control.
Where’s my rocket? Katy’s rocket caught on fire.

Katy also did the multi-axis trainer which is that chair that spins you around in all directions. The went from shortest to tallest so Katy was the first to go. However, the pictures are all of her feet. After graduation we had admission to the museum. We didn’t have time to look around at much but we did want to get a few souvenirs from the gift shop. They had a couple of Kinex creations and Katy really liked the shuttle stack. It took a team six weeks to build and has 40,000 parts, stands 10.25 feet all and weighs 180 pounds. If you knock it over, I wonder if they make you rebuild it? I think it looks a little like R2-D2.

The museum was having a traveling exhibition called Mammoths and Mastodons. We didn’t really get a chance to look at it but we ran into a real-life Mammoth, though. Somehow I expected him to be bigger!

At graduation we noticed there were several kids from the metro area on her team. I wish Space Camp had a place on their website where you could connect with other in your area who are attending. Then you could carpool or kids could fly out together. There was also someone there from Owensboro, where Heath is from. We drove up  on state highways rather than the interstate and it was a nice drive we drove past the Tennessee River and the Little River Canyon National Preserve. There was a walkway to a trail and Katy wanted to stop and explore on the way home but we had to get back. We passed this statue of the band Alabama several times.

The last stop was to pick up the dogs.

One thought on “It was a blast!

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