Huntsville – "When I grow up I want to be an astronaut" is something that many children say and that few can reach. However, everyone who dreams of going to space can recreate it at Space Camp, a children's camp in Alabama dedicated entirely to traveling beyond Earth.
Simulating missions in space, training as NASA astronauts do, or feeling the thrill of a countdown before a launch are just a few of the experiences that little ones with stratospheric ambitions can enjoy at Space Camp, which since 1982 is located in a City of Alabama called Huntsville.
Although not famed for Houston or Cape Canaveral, Huntsville also has a great aerospace history, to such an extent that its nickname is "The Rocket City" (The City of Rockets).
It was in Huntsville, where Wernher von Braun He designed the ship Saturn V, used for example in the Apollo XI mission to reach the moon for the first time, and also in this city with an important scientific activity is the Marshall Space Flight Center of NASA.
Space Camp is located next to the Space and Ships Center of the United States, a NASA museum on the conquest of space with a huge Saturn V presiding over the central hall.
It is in this place where children learn, while they play, about the puzzles of space. So the little ones in NASA's blue outfits, as if preparing to travel to infinity and beyond, can spin on the multi-axis simulator or experience the Moon's gravity thanks to a set of harnesses that allows them to float almost air
The Space Camp program, different plans for children from 9 to 18 years of ageAlso includes practical diving lessons or scientific lessons on how to build the best thermal insulation for a ship.
The complete simulation of a space mission, from takeoff to landing, is the highlight of the training, where children must join forces to make everything go as planned.
With positions ranging from the ship's commander to the flight director at the control center, participants recreate the mission, including scientific experiments or spacewalks.
And since it's all a game, you can even laugh when someone lets out the worst harbinger of a space travel: "Houston, we have a problem."
Once you have received 800,000 people from 150 countries since it opened its doors, according to data from its managers, the Space Camp, which also offers stays for adults, puts the emphasis on teamwork and collaboration beyond the races and nations, an approach reminiscent of the interstellar utopia of "Star Trek ".
"You can see the passion children have for science and space, but also see how they work together … combining, getting to know each other, discovering their weaknesses and strengths and working together," he told Efe. the monitors of the Space Camp, Jillian Sweat.
"I think my generation is planning to go to Mars and these kids will be the generation that will take us there, so it's very important that they know what's being planned and get excited about it," he added.
In the same vein, Monica Araya, Costa Rican expert in the fight against climate change and advises for National Geographic on "Mars," Efe said in the statements of the importance of dissemination so that science "do not get bubbles of experts."
"Humans, in general, have a tendency in the short term, day to day, we are made to deal with what we have before us," said Araya on the difficulty of raising awareness on issues such as climate change or space exploration, which They go beyond a generation.
"It is important that children have very open windows to issues that transcend their daily lives: science, space, natural resources, nature … All this opens the windows," he concluded.