You could say it was a summer camp that was out of this world.
Warren County High School freshman Ethan Barrett learned all about being an astronaut during a five-day camp at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Ala. He graduated from the basic academy July 26 and plans to attend the advanced academy next summer.
“It was really neat getting to go on some of the simulators, especially the zero-gravity simulator,” said Barrett. “It’s definitely weird floating around with nothing to hold you down except for a tether. You had to pull on the tether to come back down.”
Another interesting aspect, Barrett said, was getting to eat lunch with astronaut Don Thomas, a veteran of four space flights who has logged over 1,040 hours in space.
“He signed an autograph for me that said, ‘Reach for the stars,’” said Barrett.
Space camp participants also got to experience simulated space missions and rocket launches. Barrett got to wear a space suit while working in a frictionless environment on the manned maneuvering unit.
Participants were divided into nine teams and each team was given a mission to complete during camp. Barrett was picked as commander of his team. The team’s mission included building a rocket.
While the camp is aimed at training the next generation of space explorers for a possible mission to Mars and beyond, Barrett says he doesn’t want to be an astronaut as a career choice.
“It’s far too risky,” he said. “I’d like to be a military engineer.”
Ethan is the son of Drew and Deanna Barrett. He raised the money to attend camp himself by recycling toner cartridges.