Adventures in Kentucky: NASA Space Camp Part Two

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Last week in Adventures in Kentucky, Brandon and Gene took a trip to Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama, where they got a first-hand taste of astronaut training.

In part two of Brandon’s NASA adventure, the team checks out some of the apparatus used to prepare astronauts for the rigors of outer space.

As told by Brandon:
In addition to the underwater training and the tower climb, we also explored a few other space simulations and in the end, put our training to the test for a mission.

To simulate the strain of take-off, we start our morning in the Centrifuge. This monstrous machine is actually used by NASA and can simulate up to five times the force of gravity. Gene Birk and I strap in and go for a spin.

Multiplying the force of gravity by three, the weight of our arms and legs is so great that they can hardly be moved. We continue to spin round and round until finally the massive contraption comes to a halt. We exit the cockpit with a new appreciation for normal gravity.

Following the Centrifuge, we move to another building with still more space simulations. Many people have this apparatus at carnivals and fairs but none the less it is an exciting ride. The disorientation is nearly overwhelming but to add to the stress, a true NASA pilot would have to recover from the wild spin.

After spinning our brains out in the Centrifuge and in the rings, we move to a much more free and fun simulator. NASA’s Space Camp has developed a chair that can simulate the lack of gravity on the moon. One sixth earth’s gravity to be exact. We experience why the legends Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldron bounced as they walked on the moon.

After our training, we pull together all of our newly acquired knowledge and simulate a real outer space mission. We each had an important role but in the end we looked to our commander and pilot, Gene Birk to bring us home.

Here at NASA’s Space Camp in Huntsville, we’ve been challenged to dive deeper and climb higher to accomplish a team goal. Accomplishing that team goal helps us find something bigger than ourselves.

If you’re interested in a Space Camp adventure of your own, you can contact the Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama, by logging onto

We’ll bring you more from Huntsville, in Gene’s three-part series “Shoot for the Stars,” which starts tonight, Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2007, at 6 p.m. and as always, if you have an adventure idea you’d like to see Brandon try, just email him at