So from June 10-15, I and my dad went to Space Center Houston, which is obviously in Houston and was pretty amazing. We took a 4-5 hour long road trip and came to Houston at abouyt 8;00 in the night. The actual space camp is near a real live NASA, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, space station, Jhonson Space Center.
On the first day, Monday, my group and I took a tram tour to the Jhonson Space center and saw a live feed of mission control and an up-close sit and watch experience of Mission Control trainees training to become part of the real mission control. We got assigned to our tables and partner and did a fun challenge which shows how astronauts talk to Capcom. The challenge is where you sit around a table with your friends or partners, and one person is the astronaut, and they have all the lego pieces with them.
Everyone else is Capcom and gets different steps in building the final product. The real challenge of the game is describing how a piece looks like or where it goes. An example would be a piece that looks like a trapezoid skirt with legs coming out the sides at the very edge. Yeah, you have no idea what I’m talking about. It was really funny when we all were describing the pieces because we couldn’t show the step and honestly, each of us had a bit of a challenging time describing and understanding what the piece was and where it went. We ended the day with rocket building, where we “built”, followed the instructions, our own rocket.
On Tuesday we launched our rockets and it was AWESOME!!!!!!!!!! The high school groups’ rockets were stage 2, where they would launch, break off and have the parachute come out, and the middle school group, my group, were only stage ones, where, only the rockets would launch and bring out the parachute. Following that, we took another tram tour, only this time we had a rocket briefing and saw a replica of the actual Saturn V, because every rocket is used once, and we saw multiple capsules as well. For our challenge that day we had to build lunar Habitats for the moon. Ok, to be honest, I did not like my partner at all. She was the slowest partner ever, I was ready and had all my research ready for this and our design was spectacular, but she was extremely slow. We had to race the clock for this, and I got my story done in around an hour, while she still was making borders for our habitat, trying to be neat and precise. I understand for that, but she could go faster, and even to make chairs, chairs, she took like 2 whole hours!!!!!! Just cut, fold and glue, how hard is that?! We didn’t place at all, but there were more challenges that I could look forward to. To end the day we explored the lifestyle of an Astronaut and what they need to survive on the moon and in space.
On Wednesday, We had a guest speaker, Ms. Kristi Duplichen who talked to us about the ISS, the International Space Station, and she talked about how her team and her help the astronauts on it when they’re in space. Surprisingly my partner didn’t come so I worked with my friend’s group instead, on a robotics and lego challenge. The challenge was to create a rover which would prepare for the astronauts’ mission to land on Mars. We worked well together, and with my love for creating things with legos, we succeeded in making 3rd place, because our robot seemed to bail on us at the last minute. Oh well, we had great designs and tools though. We toured the Space Center University and played around with the interactions, such as an experience in the ISS, managing your health on the ISS, and a block stacking challenge where you have to stack blocks one on top of each other using a glove inside a box feeling how it is on Earth and in space.
On Thursday, we took a Tram tour to see the NBL, the Neutral Buoyancy Lab where we saw Astronauts training underwater. The Astronauts have to stay underwater for at least 6-7 hours so they have a small water supply which they can drink, and in they have to go to the bathroom they can go wearing the suit, because, they’re wearing special absorbing underwear which will absorb it if they go number one. Hopefully not number 2. The real space suits have a sort of backpack which weighs 300 pounds itself, so the astronauts underwater wear weights instead because the “backpack” is actually hollowed out. Once their preparation tests were ready and they were underwater, we went back to the Space Center and did virtual reality helmets, where we got to see how the ISS looks like and the different modules. Next, we toured the solar system. Starting with mercury, the surface is a rocky one with no atmosphere, so you could see the stars clearly and the sun which was the size of a button. Venus the sky is covered up by clouds of sulphuric acid, and to me, in the distance, you can see what looks like 5-6 different tornadoes all in a straight line. Skipping Earth and the moon, because we’ve seen them, we see mars which is the red planet due to its rusty iron color. We saw actual selfies and snapshots from the Mars Curiosity and Opportunity rovers, mainly the curiosity because the Opportunity rover could not work any longer due to a storm on Mars. On February 18, 2019, its last words, My battery is getting low and it’s getting dark, brought a sad day to NASA. For 15 years the Opportunity rover had researched and traveled into the vast unknowns, now knowns, of Mars. Anyway, we landed on what people kept saying was Jupiter, yet they forgot that there is an asteroid belt in our solar system between Mars and the gas giants, so when I said the asteroid, I was correct. The one we landed on had ice caps, was rocky and has no surface, like all asteroids so. We sadly did not land on Jupiter but we saw it’s view from it’s closest moon. Saturn, my second favorite planet, after Earth, was such a spectacular yet cloudy and gaseous sight. Its dazzling stunning rings were amazing from the surface when you look straight up. Uranus and Neptune, the twin blue brothers were blue by an acid, which I forgot, so sorry, 😐 , and on the surface, they both looked like they had a blue swirl like a stick dragged through the surface and stayed that way. Later followed a Thermodynamics challenge, and my partner hadn’t come again so I worked with a boy who’s partner also wasn’t there due to a medical reason, and he was a funny partner. We came up with three creations to protect a screw from 2,000 degrees Celcius using only 4 materials. Steel Smore, which had 2 steel patches of wool and 2 steel screens, Steel Smore MK2 which was steel wool, 2 steel screens, and 1 aluminum foil, and the legendary iron comet which got us the 3rd place for its Steel and brass screen and steel wool and aluminum foil creation.
On Friday we had brunch with an astronaut, where retired astronaut, Mr. Clayton Anderson talked about his adventures as an astronaut with amusing side stories. We toured the starship gallery and Destiny theater after that which was in the Space Center. in the Destiny Theater, we watched a film about the rocket launches performed by NASA, and the missions Apollo,Mercury, Gemini, and more. In the Starship gallery, we toured rocket history and learned about the different mission patches made. We also saw the real and actual capsule from Apollo 17 which the astronauts came back to Earth in, and I touched it!!!!!!!! We learned about the history of the moon rovers the astronauts used on the lunar surface and how they developed and changed and how they were built. Also, in a display, our guide was asking us to look closely at it and I spotted it first, that one astronaut had red stripes on their suit. This was so mission control knew which one was the commander, the one in red stripes. We continued on to learn about Lunar soil and rocks, and I felt a real lunar rock, which was weathered down by being touched. Fun fact: If you run your hand through lunar soil it will end up with cuts and scars all over your hand. We ventured on to the Space Lab replica, which was a lab for astronauts to work in, and a fragment of the space lab which fell to Australia and a kind person generously returned. We had graduation after that and me and dad went to the gift shop where we got a water bottle and keychain for me, and a pretty bracelet for my mom, and a magnet for the family. I wanted a space suit but dad said no. 😔
I loved my journey and I hope that I grow up to work at NASA and become an astrophysicist or an astronaut one day!!!!