Students Simulate Space Mission

Today marks the 25th anniversary of the space shuttle Challenger disaster. Here in Houston, students from Cornelius Academy marked the occasion with a field trip to the Challenger Learning Center at the Museum of Natural Science. As Bill Stamps reports — it was a field trip they’re bound to remember for a long time.

(Students talk on microphone)

In this realistic looking master control, students are in charge of a mission to Mars. Peggy Halford supervises.

“It’s training, just like the astronauts train before they go into space.”

Student 1: “From life support, are you ready for environmental conditions?”
Student 2: “No over.”
Halford: “They put the mission controllers in mission control. The astronauts in the spacecraft simulator and they practice as if it’s the real thing.”

Student 1: “This is mission control, we are still standing by if the light on the…”  

There are 48 Challenger Centers like this one across the country. They are named after the Space Shuttle Challenger which exploded in flight in 1986.

After the Challenger tragedy, the families wanted a living, teaching memorial. They wanted the astronauts to be remembered for how they lived not how they died. They wanted a living legacy. So the Challenger Centers were built so that kids could come and learn what their astronaut did.

Halford:  “Go over your emergency imstructions. Astroid impact. Astroid impact.”

“They have to solve problems. They have to work as a team. They have to stay calm during emergencies. It’s really the same skills that all of us need in any profession we choose in life. Whether we’re going to be an astronaut, or a teacher, or a doctor, or a lawyer, we don’t want our doctors to panic when the waiting room is all full.”

After troubleshooting the problem, the mission is saved.

Student 2: “Mission Control this is Legacy. We landed on Mars.” 

What to the kids think of the space mission reenactment?

“The first thing kids say when they leave is when we can do it again. They have a blast”

Student: “Over and out.”

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