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Space Camp: Not Just For Kids Any More

timothy posted 1 year,19 days | from the now-take-these-antigravity-pills dept.

Space 48

The L.A. Times features a description of what space camp is like, not for for its traditional demographic of teens and pre-teens interested in science (and possibly thinking of careers in space), but for adults. The Huntsville program where writer Jane Engle spent three days playing astronaut gives adults a chance to experience simulated low gravity and fighter jet simulation. "We also spent hours inside mock-ups of a space shuttle cockpit, NASA mission control and the International Space Station, the settings for simulated shuttle missions that formed the core of our training. Working in teams, we took turns crewing the space shuttle orbiter, monitoring the mission, conducting research experiments and doing extravehicular activities, a.k.a. spacewalks, to make repairs." The price strikes me as surprisingly reasonable, too: about $550.

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Too bad the shuttle was retired (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 days | (#45052317)

But a man can dream right?

This is New? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 days | (#45052319)

Am I the only one who thought Space Camp always had offerings for adults? Less "YAY SCIENCE", more flight-sim kinda stuff.

Re:This is New? (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 days | (#45052401)

Space Camp had adult programs back when I went there, as a middle schooler, in the early 1990s. This isn't news.

Re:This is New? (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 days | (#45052411)

This is not new.

  I'm 37 now but when I was about 12 I did Space Academy I (, then later Aviation Challenge ( and then when I was a good bit older I came back and did Academy level II. Even then I remember adult and older kid programs.

It is good fun and you are right in the middle of where the real stuff is made (rockets) so I'd suggest it for anyone with time.

Re:This is New? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 days | (#45052427)

No, it isn't new. Space Camp had adult programs 25 years ago.

Re:This is New? (2)

UnderCoverPenguin (1001627) | 1 year,19 days | (#45052471)

No, it's not new.

When I was in highschool, 20 yeaars ago, I went to both Space Acadamy and Space Acadamy II. During the week I was there for SA-II, there were 2 groups of adults, one in SA, the other in SA-II. Their programs were completely seperate from ours, but we did get to talk with some of them. The adult versions of the programs were a lot more "hands on" then the highschool versions. We did a lot of science projects while the adults more than twice as many simulations. And we "kids" were awarded "credits", in "general science", from the local university. But, I would have happily traded those credits for the extra sim time.

Re:This is New? (0)

milkmage (795746) | 1 year,19 days | (#45052537)

who the fuck said it was new? the author fully acknowledges the program has catered to all for 30 years.


"The three-day program is among more than a dozen versions of Space Camp, which the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville created more than 30 years ago to give visitors a taste of what it's like to train as an astronaut. Lasting up to a week, Space Camps are variously tailored to children, adults, families, corporate team-building and other groups."

Re:This is New? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 days | (#45052569)

"Space Camp: Not Just For Kids Any More".... Right there it says that, at some point, Space Camp was just for kids.

SpaceCamp Launch was fictional! (0)

Freshly Exhumed (105597) | 1 year,19 days | (#45052383)

I know I worry all the time about some kid at Space Camp flipping the wrong switch and starting a terrifying chain of events, but have you ever noticed how there is no space between the words in the title of the documentary they made about it? [] Get it: NO SPACE! There's your first hint that it was all staged, like Neil Armstrong and the Capricorn One landing.

Re:SpaceCamp Launch was fictional! (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 days | (#45052525)

That was Apollo Creed on Capricorn One.

Re:SpaceCamp Launch was fictional! (1)

JustOK (667959) | 1 year,19 days | (#45052677)

There's a space in Err in Space Museum

The kid didn't flip the wrong switch (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,18 days | (#45054309)

The kid saved a little robot from bullies and the little robot decided to send him on a trip to space as a reward.

Thinking of a career in space . . . ? (1)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | 1 year,19 days | (#45052385)

Go visit Congress when they are discussing NASA. That will change your mind.

Nothing new! (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 days | (#45052403)

This is the same space camp they've had since I was a kid in the mid-90s (and went).

Additionally the 'null gravity' tank or whatever they call it had adults practicing 'real' spacewalks in it while we were there.

It was a terrible terrible waste of time and money IMHO though. Way too many kids, half being Quebecans (and really enjoying jumping into French so we couldn't understand them at every turn, even during group activities!), not enough time for most kids to try out all activities (Space shuttle sim only held like 8, the cable version of the spacewalk had buoyancy problems, the mission control software was antiquated THEN)

Etc etc.

And given that the shuttles have been non-op for however many years now, what's the point? It's not like the skills would translate to any of the modern capsules in the rare event you actually got the opportunity to use them.

Just my 2 cents as an unhappy space camper.

Should I laugh, cry or applaud? Not sure... (2)

mha (1305) | 1 year,19 days | (#45052407)

It seems to me, from far away, that in reality the US is going farther and farther away from space exploration and research in general, so I am not sure if these efforts are "placeholders" and "proxy actions" by people so that they don't have to see the painful reality as much. Which doesn't make it bad of course! Just saying it also serves a psychological purpose for those creating such programs. We just had headlines about a NASA conference that excludes Chinese scientists (incl. those already doing research at US universities). Then there's the government shutdown, and the big political and economic problems - basically ZERO change after the last financial crisis, same people, same actions. From where I am (not in the US but reading as much as I can - used to live there for many years) most people couldn't care less about space, and it only gets worse.

Re:Should I laugh, cry or applaud? Not sure... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 days | (#45052565)

There really is no point to Space Camp any longer. Manned space flight is nearly dead, we haven't been more than 500 miles from the Earth's surface in over 40 years, and it's unlikely an American is going to return to the moon or travel to Mars. Assuming any other country can even absorb the cost of deep space travel, we are stuck around our little planet for the long term future. Perhaps in another age, but there is no country or company that will spend the kind of money required to send a human being to another planet or moon. Robotics is the future for now. It would be better to send kids interested in science to JPL instead.

Re:Should I laugh, cry or applaud? Not sure... (1)

mha (1305) | 1 year,19 days | (#45052693)

I don't mind the focus on robotics AT ALL. Humans have a VERY hard time up there with the currently available space ships/technology - just because we find enough volunteers (>200,000 just applied for that one-way(!!!) trip to Mars) doesn't mean it's worth it.

No, my point is the country doesn't seem to be willing, able, interested, etc. to do even THAT.

Oh yes, there's the "money" argument. The sad part is that people completely mix up the very different meanings of "money" on small (individuals, businesses, municipalities, small countries with dependent currencies) and large (countries with the power to control currency) scale. There wasn't a pot of money with xxx billion dollars given to Adam and Eve or to our ape ancestors with which we now have to live. When a whole society like the US (with a world currency) decides to create something like a huge road network, or a huge power grid, or a 4g network - or a space program, then money and the values that money stands for are created at the same time. Sure, that only works if there is access supply of labor and resources, not if everyone is already working and the country is starving, but those conditions are met in the US. They prefer to give trillions to too-big-to-fail banks and to the military, prisons, health care (where the US has the by far highest cost but less favorable outcomes than comparable western countries), and so on.

And by the way, Silicon Valley was NOT the result of the "entrepreneurial spirit" and of private capital but of long-term government investments: []

Re:Should I laugh, cry or applaud? Not sure... (1)

kermidge (2221646) | 1 year,18 days | (#45053137)

Good points and well said.

I noted that even in July '69 the great bulk of the enthusiasm was not shared by great swathes of the populace but was also as ephemeral as a team winning the Superbowl, based upon my own observation, polls, editorials, and letters to editors. That situation hasn't gotten better. As far as I can figure people don't care.

There is to me a distinct lack of vision and imagination permeating everything unless it be an infatuation about something that will make gobs of money short-term.

I don't know who it was that remarked that leadership is the ability to follow from the front; if so, that's what we've had, and even that, badly.

When basic research is under attack at all levels, from the National Institutes down, from companies outward, I don't see a favorable outcome. Policy makers and purse holders have forgotten that applied- science, research, engineering, all stem from pure, and that basic research itself stems often as not from whimsy and speculation.

We've lost the sense of frontiers, largely to self-imposed blinders. We've lost the sense of awe and accompanying humility.

Re:Should I laugh, cry or applaud? Not sure... (1)

Rich0 (548339) | 1 year,18 days | (#45056995)

When basic research is under attack at all levels, from the National Institutes down, from companies outward, I don't see a favorable outcome. Policy makers and purse holders have forgotten that applied- science, research, engineering, all stem from pure, and that basic research itself stems often as not from whimsy and speculation.

This is the tragedy of the commons. If the US spends the money on basic research, it is just as likely that a company somewhere else in the world will be the one to capitalize on it. If the US does nothing and Europe funds basic research, a US-based company can still sell the new widgets based on the results of that research. As a result, nobody wants to spend money on it.

That's the problem that patents were intended to solve (whether they work is a separate argument). However, nobody really thinks that patents really work for basic research, only for the more applied research needed to productize something.

National competition is the force that kills basic research. Funding it is somebody else's problem.

Re:Should I laugh, cry or applaud? Not sure... (1)

kermidge (2221646) | 1 year,17 days | (#45064471)

You raise some good points. The commons bit and poaching off pure R done by another country frankly hadn't occurred to me at all.

Was a time - within my own lifetime, no less - that pure research was pursued as a matter of course by any and most every country in some fashion. When cash didn't exist, there was other support - lodging, food, such supplies and gear as could be borrowed or cobbled. It wasn't just for prestige, either. For a period of time many were able to see that research for its own sake was important, even tho it might never make a dime.

Wasn't Einstein working at the patent office in Bern when he cooked up the paper on the photo-electric effect?

Re:Should I laugh, cry or applaud? Not sure... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,18 days | (#45055887)

The US is too busy fucking every other thing up to keep up with space which has largely been deemed unimportant by the past several administrations. They're too busy chasing ghosts and imaginary demons to focus on real problems.

"Space" Camp in actual space (2)

globaljustin (574257) | 1 year,19 days | (#45052419)

I want to see a NASA space camp run in actual at the ISS.

First of all, we should be mining the moon/asteroids and walking on Mars right now (and working towards Jupiter's moons)...basically right now...

I know that's not the case, but we won't ever get there unless we start education programs that make spacefaring a common activity.

I love NASA. If they could get non-political, operational leadership and budget NASA could put this together.

Every gov't agency has training courses and such. FBI has Quantico, etc...NASA has this too it's just not well known.

I say **build it out** out NASA's education program to provide challenges worthy of college and graduate-level students...make a pipeline to being the next 'Buzz Aldrin' without having to be in the military.

And make part of the course a short visit to the ISS.

Of course grad students would be going up to do research projects...

It can happen...really this can start really is just a matter of paperwork!

We could do it...

Re:"Space" Camp in actual space (1)

RespekMyAthorati (798091) | 1 year,19 days | (#45052609)

And make part of the course a short visit to the ISS.

This already exists. You just need $20 million to throw around.

check defense budget (1)

globaljustin (574257) | 1 year,18 days | (#45053785)

You just need $20 million to throw around.

The DoD spends this on belt buckles & shoelaces. Don't tell me we don't have it.

The money is there...more than enough in the budget...the problem is the GOP of course...Republicans (read: the ppl that fund them) are running the 'divide and conquer' using the federal budget.

Re:check defense budget (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,18 days | (#45055913)

...but you just nailed the problem down - we don't have the money, because the DoD is too busy spending it.

we have it before we spend it (2)

globaljustin (574257) | 1 year,18 days | (#45056009)


we don't have the money, because the DoD is too busy spending it.

you know that we decide what the government spends its money on, right?

there are people, real actual humans, who actually decide what projects to fund and not...

you agree with me, and are proving me point is that the money is there, but we can't use it for productive things b/c of one rump party suiciding itself administratively

Re:we have it before we spend it (1)

Rich0 (548339) | 1 year,18 days | (#45057025)

So, are you proposing that we should maintain a military without shoelaces in order to send one lucky kid to the ISS.

I can't argue that we spend way too much on the military, but sending kids to the ISS isn't really an effective way to educate them. Sending 1 kid per year to the ISS costs WAY more than $20M if you ever want to scale it up. The $20M figure probably assumes that there is a free spot on an otherwise-funded launch, and that there is a free spot on an otherwise-built ISS for them to stay in. That works when you just want to send 1-2 kids/yr up. If you actually want a space station full of 20 kids then you need to completely fund the construction of the space station (the current ISS only holds 6 and cost $150B, and is showing its age at 14 yrs). Let's assume that a station for 20 kids goes sparse on other equipment and only costs $200B and lasts 20 years. That is $10M per kid-week if you keep it full 24x7. The US pays $71M for a seat on a Soyuz, which is likely somewhere near the actual cost. So, sending kids to space camp in space costs $81M per kid, assuming the space station lasts 20 years after it is fully constructed (which is a stretch).

So, who do you intend to send up there? Is it just a lucky few, or do you intend to send half the kids in the country up to a fleet of space stations? And what else could you be doing with $81M to improve education/etc in the country, rather than spending it so that a kid can spend a week experiencing space?

you can't handle it... (1)

globaljustin (574257) | 1 year,18 days | (#45059205)

Why does the truth of what I'm saying incite such cognitive dissonance??

let me FTFY

So, are you proposing that we should maintain a military without corporate cash giveaways in order to send **our future leaders** to the ISS.

your $81Mil. per person figure is based on the same BS accounting that the GOP uses when they want to use "fiscal crisis" as a reason to end a program that hurts Oligarch's revenue stream in some way.

why? why? why?

why is the notion that we should have a vision of human exploration...and the FOLLOW threatening?

Re:you can't handle it... (1)

Rich0 (548339) | 1 year,18 days | (#45062181)

Actually $81M is low - I didn't factor in time-value of money. If the money were sunk into retiring the national debt you'd save considerably more than that. So, the actual cost is probably close to double that.

Just how do you propose building a cheap space station for less than that? The ISS did cost $150B. Launching payload to orbit is expensive - tens of thousands of dollars per kilogram. And that is the cost for an unmanned mission, which of course would be adequate for lifting the station components themselves. The support costs to put people in space are, well, astronomical. :)

This isn't going for a bus ride to the museum. We're talking about putting people into space. Nobody has figured out how to make it cheap.

As far as accounting goes - I don't see anything controversial in how I did the math. If you ignore up-front costs you can lower the per-kid cost, but that is just playing a shell game.

I don't know what military spending has to do with any of this. If the military is wasting money it should be stopped. That doesn't mean that you go waste the money on something else. You take spending decisions on their own merits.

just making stuff up now... (1)

globaljustin (574257) | 1 year,17 days | (#45070495)

this is not a're just trolling and stroking your this point

Re:"Space" Camp in actual space (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,18 days | (#45053201)

Actual Space Camp NASA would be a sufficient experience for most: $5000 per individual for a set of actual astronaut training sessions, including low and high Gs, and then a proper CAVE or VR simulations with sets for the mission parts. Mandatory pre-camp medical and vomit sacks included. Funding for facility maintenance should be an attainable goal.

your attitude is why we don't: (1)

globaljustin (574257) | 1 year,18 days | (#45054039)

Actual Space Camp NASA would be a sufficient experience for most

right...exactly my's "sufficient" for what we do now in space...jack shit...It is woefully inefficient to train astronauts to mine the moon and colonize Mars.

the 'middle ground' fallacy is in play here...the middle ground isn't by default the right way...

We need an evolutionary step forward in NASA and our concept of space exploration...we're limiting ourselves for absolutely no reason...b/c of the 'middle ground' fallacy.

Re:"Space" Camp in actual space (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,18 days | (#45055901)

No problem - you'll just have to come up with the $500,000 they'll ask for in order for you to participate. Basically it will become something only rich people do, regardless of whether or not those who come from humble backgrounds are better choices.

fine print (1, Funny)

bitt3n (941736) | 1 year,19 days | (#45052493)

The price strikes me as surprisingly reasonable, too: about $550.

Sure it does, until you realize that's for their "Space-Shuttle Challenger" package.

Re:fine print (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,18 days | (#45054327)

Here at NASA, we offer packaged prices that will blow you away! I challenge you to find a better deal in the galaxy!

America's manned space program.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 days | (#45052507)

now just an amusement park!

Funniest quote in the article (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 days | (#45052521)

"The next day, a disappointed Laurie dropped out of training. She had signed up with me more or less on a lark. Among other criticisms, she gave low marks to her shuttle mission experience. "I realized Space Camp is for people who dream of being an astronaut and traveling into space," she said. And that's not her."

What did she think it was for, building temporary outdoor shelters out of the largest key on thousands of discarded keyboards?

It's not worth it any longer (2)

Khyber (864651) | 1 year,19 days | (#45052763)

I went when you could actually FLY, from Huntsville to Macon. It counts towards your pilot license as well.

All you get now is simulated crap.

Modern Space Camp - DEAD space (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,18 days | (#45053099)

So what does the modern program do? Teach you how to bum a ride from the Ruskies? Or from private enterprise? Do they teach you to scrap rocket program after rocket program after a few hundred million has already been spent? Prepare you for an alternate career by having you repeat the phrase "Would you like fries with that?". Do they have advanced programs where they teach children to cope with being robbed and given wedgies? Do they teach you to fake total apathy about science, then say stupid things about reality TV programs and the latest boy band so you don't get beaten up? Because from what I can tell those are the required skills in the US, as manned space exploration is all but dead, and the only reason it's kept alive at all is because the ISS is an international collaboration.

Re:Modern Space Camp - DEAD space (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,18 days | (#45053865)

Does it teach you about how close to the Earth LEO still is and how far away just the Moon is? Does it teach you how hostile and empty space is? Or what a difficult environment it is? Or how limited our technology is?

I'll go... (1)

Coditor (2849497) | 1 year,18 days | (#45053383)

... when Space Camp is in Space.

Uh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,18 days | (#45053591)

The entire idea of putting people in space was never more than a space camp for adults.

Why all the shuttle stuff? (1)

damn_registrars (1103043) | 1 year,18 days | (#45053745)

Seems kinda odd that the space camp spends so much time doing exercises that are designed around a vehicle that will never fly again... I thought our next generation vehicles were going to be more like traditional rockets than the space shuttle fleet.

Re:Why all the shuttle stuff? (1)

FPhlyer (14433) | 1 year,18 days | (#45055221)

Replacing all of the Space Camp infrastructure is prohibitively expensive. Besides what would they replace the Shuttle with? The Constellation program was cancelled and there is always the chance that the next U.S. President will just cancel the current President's vision for a manned space program. You could replace all the Space Shuttle stuff with a simulation of the ISS but you'd probably hit the ISS's end of life (2020) before you could get all the Shuttle stuff replaced at Space Camp.

Remember; the shuttles have only been retired now for a little over two years. You can't expect NASA on it's shoestring budget to completely renovate a non-mission critical facility like Space Camp to reflect the reality that the USA's manned space program has an uncertain future in that short a period of time. All Space Camp can do right now is look to the past because whatever future there may be to look forward to is amorphous right now.

Re:Why all the shuttle stuff? (1)

Kogun (170504) | 1 year,18 days | (#45055521)

On all other points you've made, kudos. However, Space Camp does not operate within the budget of NASA. It is part of the United State Space and Rocket Center Museum. Having developed and sold a simulator to Space Camp, I wish they had part of NASA's budget. Museums are not deep pocket customers.

I don't believe the value of the current simulators (none of which I worked on, btw) is diminished in the least by being reflective of the last 32 years of manned flight. The important parts of what is being taught is not about specific flight hardware as much as it is about planning and teamwork in the adverse conditions that space provides.

Movie Coming Out about Space Camp (1)

cstacy (534252) | 1 year,18 days | (#45056069)

I believe it is called "Ender's Game".

Re:Movie Coming Out about Space Camp (1)

cwsumner (1303261) | 1 year,17 days | (#45072915)

I believe it is called "Ender's Game".

Um... Not exactly. 8-}

"any more" (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,18 days | (#45057809)

Huntsville Space and Rocket Center has been offering team building exercises for adults for some time. This isn't exactly new.

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