In a series of events which makes it sound like somebody is doing a reboot of the 1986 movie of the same name, a Huntsville Space Camp alumna rocketed off to the International Space Station on July 6th, 2016. Her “short” visit to the ISS will last 4 months, during which time she will set a number of firsts in space, including being the first person to sequence DNA in a zero gravity environment. Dr. Kate Rubins was joined in her journey aboard the Soyuz spacecraft by Cosmonaut Anatoly Ivanishin and Japanese astronaut Takuya Onishi from the JAEA (Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency), Dr. Rubins becoming the 60th woman in space in the process.
Dr. Kathleen Hallisey Rubins had her first taste of space exploration when she attended Space Camp, at the U.S. Space and Rocket Centre in Huntsville, when she was in 7th grade, and her love of all things rocketry and science grew from there. She later studied for, and was awarded with, a Bachelor of Science degree in molecular biology from the University of California in San Diego.
After spending several years working with the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research at MIT, she was then selected for the astronaut program in 2009, and began her Astronaut Candidate Training shortly afterwards. Unlike what you see in movies, astronaut training includes everything from learning all about the complex systems on the International Space Station, to how to perform an EVA, or space walk, all the way through to wilderness survival training.
We’re pretty sure Kate’s parents recognized her interest in space exploration from an early age, especially with her desire to visit Space Camp. Although Dr. Rubins was in 7th grade at the time, Space Camp does have something for kids aged anywhere from 9 to 18 years of age. Feeling a bit left out because you’re that little bit older than 18? Don’t – Space Camp also offers adult Space Academy Programs, and even programs that cater for the entire family.
Examples of what your kids can look forward to include the Mach I and Mach II simulation programs, where they’ll learn how to use a flight simulator in solo maneuvers, while older kids learn how to fly as part of a squadron, or even take a spin in a centrifuge. There’s also a robotics camp to take part in for kids over 12 years of age, and scuba diving training for any kids aged over 15. The scuba diving activity is similar to the underwater training an astronaut would receive to simulate a zero-gravity environment.
While this all sounds like amazing fun, your kids also learn about important scientific principles like Newton’s Laws of Motion and Bernoulli’s Principle, broadening their academic horizons while they’re having a great time with their new friends.
Space Camp does also include outdoor activities, such as a 150-foot zip line, and wilderness survival training where they learn how to find food and build their own shelters. So, your kids will come away from the entire experience with a head full of scientific knowledge, but also skills that could potentially save their lives.
Dr. Kate Rubins was the 60th woman in space, but your kids might be one of the first Earth colonists on the Moon, or even on Mars. Space Camp is more than just a way to keep your kids busy during the summer – you’re potentially building a road to the stars for them.