Thursday, February 08, 2007

Future Astronaut Training at Cosmosphere

Tonight was the Leadership Alumni Gathering. It was at the Cosmosphere and was really fun.

They had us gather up in the space camp area and let us test out the various simulators. Teresa, who was in my class last fall, was giving us a tour and also telling me they have about 40 different groups in the summer that go through the "Future Astronaut Training Program" at the Cosmosphere.

Many of their simulators are built to accurate size and specs so when the kids go to Johnson Space Center they recognize the things they see there.

There were quite a few people from my class there and it was good to reconnect with everyone. They've had a couple of gatherings but I haven't been able to go to either one.

I was surprised there weren't more people there, but it's never possible to get everyone together at any given time. And there was a good turnout.

Peggy and Gary were there, as was Trish, although I didn't get to visit with any of them very much.

Peggy was quite the trooper and crawled into one of the simulators, and then she and Curtis rode in the centrifuge that gives you the sensation of 4Gs.

It made me half sick just to watch it turn round and round, but both of them emerged with no ill effects. In fact, Peggy's first sentence after the ride was, "OK, now I need a beer!" People were advised to experience it prior to eating or drinking.

One of the things we played with quite a bit was the rescue ball. It's this widget you get in and it is then moved from one side of the room to the other and "docked." It's made to the actual size of the ones NASA uses. The idea is to train them how to get from one ship to another - obviously you can't just walk out into space to do that.

Connie was queen of the rescue ball. You have to fold yourself up inside of it. The best piece of advice Teresa had to offer was "butt first."

The Cosmosphere is a very impressive facility. Few people get to see the Space Camp area, so it was fun to get a close up experience.