I couldn’t go to Maker Faire this weekend because I was at Space Camp. I’ve wanted to go since I was a kid, and they have adult programs so I finally got my act together and went. My friend Srini came too.
Because the description on the site was so vague, I was worried that it would be too “kiddie”, but it wasn’t, it was awesome! I guess the kiddiest thing we did was build model rockets, but that was fun!
Space Camp has a full-size shuttle simulator and a mission control. We did 3 missions over the course of the weekend, and people rotated between Mission Control, Orbiter Crew (Commander/Pilot), and Mission Specialist (EVA).
I got to do EVA on the first mission, which is exactly what I wanted. I was on the Canadarm and Srini was in a harness simulating free EVA. We had to lower a satellite into the cargo bay, repair it as mission control instructed us, replace some antennae, reactivate it, and release it. It was so much fun!
For the next mission I was Flight Director, which was kind of boring until things started going wrong. Then I had to find the solutions and communicate them to CAPCOM, who relayed to the orbiter crew. Still, it was interesting to see how Mission Control works.
For the final mission, I was the Commander on the shuttle and Srini was the Pilot. (Apparently astronauts don’t like to be called “co-pilot”, so the pilot is the “commander”, and the co-pilot is the “pilot”). We had lots of checklists to run through and many switches were flipped. I brought the shuttle in for a smooth landing at Kennedy.
Beside the missions, we visited the museum, rocket park, launched our rockets, and designed a mission patch. We went on the multi-axis trainer and the centrifuge. A nice bonus was that we had access to the museum during off-hours, so we could get right up to all the exhibits.
The whole experience was great. If you like space and rockets at all, you should consider going. There are also kid/parent camps (and of course straight-up kid space camp). The one thing I would suggest for adults staying at the Marriott across the street instead of in the dorm, which is pretty grody from generations of kids staying there.