Graham Able and Sarah Able, both age 10, graduated from Space Camp in Huntsville, Ala., on June 15 and are already planning their return trip for next summer.
Their mother, Shandra Able has been preparing for this trip to Space Camp since she found out she was pregnant. “I always wanted to go to Space Camp, and made sure that they were able to go as soon as they turned 10. It has been so exciting to watch them succeed in the program, and would encourage anyone to attend the camp, including adults. It is very well organized and the children learn so much about science, physics, space, teamwork, and so much more.”
“This graduation is very important,” said camp manager Ruth Oliver. “We are celebrating our 30th anniversary and we are graduating our 600,000th camper.”
Graham — call sign Rocky — received the second place overall Top Gun Award in the Mach I Aviation Challenge for his F/A-18 high performance jet simulator skills. His team, Lightning, won the Admiral’s Cup for most team spirit.
Sarah’s team, Aldrin, won the overall Mission Badge design contest and will have its badge featured on the Space Camp website. During her mission simulations, Sarah was the commander for the International Space Station and mission specialist for the Endeavor Space Shuttle.
Former NASA Astronaut Dr. Don Thomas was the speaker at the graduation. He quoted the signs that hang above the doors of Space Camp, that “Through these doors enter the world’s future astronauts, scientists and engineers.” He encouraged the children to follow their dreams and not let anyone tell them they can’t do something.
He remembered telling his peers in school that he was going to be an astronaut, and how they just laughed. But, with determination and persistence, he is now an accomplished astronaut, logging more than 1,040 hours in space, traveling 17.6 million miles in his 692 orbits of Earth during his four space missions aboard the Columbia and Discovery space shuttles.
Space Camp was founded in 1982 as the U.S. Space & Rocket Center museum’s education program to promote the study of math, science, and technology. This educational program couples classroom instruction with hands-on activities and teaches teamwork, decision-making, and leadership.
Rocket scientist Dr. Wernher von Braun, while leading the team of scientists and engineers at the Marshall Space Flight Center that sent astronauts to the moon, inspired these programs that have challenged and educated youngsters from all 50 states and more than 40 countries and territories. Space Camp has become known as one of the premier science/technology/engineering and math educational programs in the United States.
Aviation Challenge MACH I trainees explore the fascinating realms of flight. From Bernoulli’s Principle to Newton’s Laws of Motion, MACH I students experience a classroom unlike any other. Trainees get up close and personal with an extensive aircraft collection. They practice wilderness survival skills while learning shelter building and food procurement.
Trainees learn teamwork and leadership through interactive activities that are challenging, educational, and fun. They master Top Gun flying maneuvers in the F/A-18 high-performance jet simulators. This is a military-style program that uses simulated, realistic combat scenarios.