Friday, January 28, 2005

This Actually *is* Rocket Science ...

... at least in a virtual sense. Go ahead and call me a space cadet (believe me; you wouldn't be the first to do so), but I was truly excited to read about Spacecamp Online. Via the SciFi weekly newsletter...

If becoming an astronaut is the cherished dream of many an SF fan, it is also one that few can hope to achieve. But—for those of us who won't be on the first manned ship to Mars—the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Ala., provides a taste of the outer space experience with its Spacecamp programs. Offering astronaut training and spaceflight simulations to both children and adults, Spacecamp can take a visitor through everything from a mission briefing to the sensation of weightlessness that comes with being in zero-gravity conditions.

Spacecamp's various learning streams are available to would-be mission specialists, aviators and robotics experts. A robotics track trainee might learn to build a rover designed to rescue a stranded astronaut, for example, while campers interested in piloting a spacecraft study the basics of flight dynamics. Spacecamp Online details on every training regime offered by the center—its general features and goals, its target age group and even the possibility of tie-in college credit.

Though anyone interested in manned spaceflight will find this site well worth browsing, Spacecamp Online is—like many museum sites—largely focused on attracting flesh-and-blood visitors to its facility and programs. Its Current Exhibits section is disappointing, with only a few photographs to tie in to the V2 Rocket and MIR Space Station exhibits currently being shown at the Center. The links available on the site are primarily for referring international visitors to other Spacecamp programs around the world. Rather than providing hard but distant facts about the space sciences, this site invites Web surfers to once again consider personally exploring the unknown, while giving a glimpse into what the reality of an astronaut's life is like.

by A.M. Dellamonica

I'll give my own review of the site after I've had a chance to play with it. Glee!

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