Fly me to the moon

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Kristina Overton
  • 341st Missile Wing Public Affairs Office
More than 200 youth applied to attend the Air Force Space Camp at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Ala. The theme for the camp this year was "Star Wars: a Jedi Experience." Out of those 200, only 48 scholarships were granted. One of those scholarships was awarded to a Team Malmstrom teen.

Emily Berg, 13, was selected through the Malmstrom Youth Center to attend this year's camp July 25 to 30. Along with the other youth who were given the opportunity, Ms. Berg had a chance to experience, imagine and interact through space shuttle mission simulations, tours of the space center, different levels of gravitational force and got to witness first-hand the everyday challenges faced by astronauts.

"It was a really great experience," said Ms. Berg. "The flight simulator was a lot of fun. We pretended to be an astronaut crew and each person got assigned a certain job on the flight crew for our mission. We saw replicas and real shuttles, and we also did a lot of team building exercises and workshops."

Having been selected from Air Force bases across the world, the lessons were mixed between space in the morning and military lessons in the afternoon. Similar to the morals of the Jedi, the young astronauts-in-training learned the valuable importance of honesty, integrity, leadership and team work. For the exercises, the groups followed lesson plans that included activities and group exercises. Each participant was given a log book in which they recorded the things they learned and followed along with the different lessons.

"We did activities in a group and completed team challenges where we had to work together to complete certain tasks," Ms. Berg said. "Some of the activities were where we had to try to communicate without speaking and get through obstacles. Some were really complicated but we learned a lot from them."

Though Ms. Berg enjoyed the flight simulations and the team building exercises, neither of them stood out in her mind quite as much as her journey through outer space.

"The coolest part of the trip was watching Hubble in the IMAX theater," Ms. Berg said. "Hubble is a giant telescope that flies around in space, and through it, scientists are able to see all kinds of different galaxies and stars. In the theater, you actually feel like you're in space and it's so big around you. You actually get to see what Hubble sees."

Another opportunity afforded to those who attended the Space Camp was the chance to meet an actual retired National Aeronautics and Space Administration astronaut.

"We got to meet former astronaut Story Musgrave who is the only astronaut to have flown missions on all five space shuttles," Ms. Berg said.

To be accepted as an applicant, Ms. Berg had to get a teacher's letter of recommendation, fill out a written application with questions about space and her personal interests in the program, and also had to answer a question from a Youth Center representative about space.

As a part of the camp, participants received flight suits, T-shirts, pens, a graduation certificate and photo, and a flight badge with the names of the members of their teams embroidered on them.

"There is a lot of stuff you would never expect to be out there like black holes and pillars in space," Ms. Berg said. "We learned about nebulas, how stars die and solar systems. There's so much out there. When you think about it, we're just little ants in this whole entire world. It's really an experience I'll never forget."