Train like an astronaut

When the month of August arrives most parents and children have school on their minds. At the Armstrong Air & Space Museum we are thinking Space Camp. Space Camp is the Museum’s annual summer camp that lets students in grades 2nd through 7th train just like the astronauts do. Some of the highlights of last year’s camp included: flying in an airplane at the Neil Armstrong Airport, building a model rocket that gets launched, aquatic training at the YMCA’s pool, and running through tough obstacle courses on the Museum grounds.

Do you know what it takes to become an astronaut? After potential astronauts finish their necessary schooling and apply with NASA to become an astronaut they are then chosen to enter the astronaut training corps. The first phase has astronauts starting with two years of basic training. Much of this training takes place in the classroom, where astronaut candidates learn about vehicle and space station systems. Outside the classroom, astronaut candidates must complete military water- and land-survival training to prepare for an unplanned landing back on Earth. This survival training requires that they become scuba qualified and pass a swimming test in their first month. They must swim three lengths of a 25-meter (82-foot) pool without stopping, and then swim three lengths of the pool in a flight suit and tennis shoes with no time limit. They must also tread water continuously for 10 minutes while wearing a flight suit.

Once the basic training period is complete, candidates may be selected to become astronauts. Astronauts receive their mission and crew assignments, entering what is known as the advanced mission training phase. In this 10-month training period, astronauts focus on activities, exercises and experiments specific to their mission. Astronauts have to be prepared both for general space travel and for their specific mission. To get them ready, NASA has a variety of environments for astronaut training. There’s a simulator that lets astronauts get familiar with the in-orbit laboratory systems of the International Space Station, a full-size replica of the International Space Station that astronauts get to train in, a simulated microgravity environment for astronauts doing spacewalks, and a training center for astronauts to become familiar with the controls inside of the Russian owned Soyuz spacecraft. Becoming an astronaut is no easy task!

Contact Museum Educator, Emily Richard at 419-738-8811 or to get more information on signing your child up for Space Camp 2014.  

— Emily Richard,
museum educator,
Armstrong Air & Space Museum