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Activities in Argentina - Introduction

FATP - Future Astronaut Training Program - Kansas, United States of America

On the 21st April, Duncan Chase, (President of TCEF) and Susan Chase, Vice President of TCEF travelled to the United States where they were met in Atlanta the following day by Joy Pickering (Director of TCEF-ALO-South Africa), 9 students from St. Alban's College and 12 students from St. Mary's DSG, Teachers Barbara from St Albans and Angela from DSG. An exciting experience was ahead of them as they boarded their flight for Wichita, Kansas:

Joel Walker, (Director of Education) and Teresa Sindelar (Camp Program Manager) of the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center met the Group at the Wichita Airport and we all were immediatley whisked off to Hutchinson, Kansas where our adventure in Space Sciences and Technology was about to begin.

After a quick shower, all were bundled off to the KCSC facility where a briefing session was held, Teams established, and a review of what lay ahead for us in an exciting week of Space - related "hands on" fun learning experience.

Lectures on the history of space, the Apollo program, the ISS (international Space Station), Soyuz, and the STS (Space Transportation System) were informative and provoked many question and answer sessions from participants. The enthusiasm shown by instructors, staff and students in this incredible introduction to Space Sciences and Technology something that will never be forgotten.

During the 8 Days Course of Future Astronaut Training Program FATP at KCSC, we were delighted with lectures, talks, visits to the KCSC Museum, outings to wonderful restaurants, as well as rocket building and launching excercises, visits to the Planetarium and night observation excercises under the capable and interesting direction of Tom Holcomb (KCSC Planetarium Director), the IMAX Theatre, Fighter Aircraft Flight simulators, Space Shuttle (STS) Simulator and Missions, The EVA (Extra Vehicular Activity) simulator, G - Force simulator, Explosive Sciences, Robot Making, Space Economics, Emergency Escape Procedures, MMU (Manned Mobile Unit) simulator, just to name a few of the exciting experiences enjoyed by all.

The KCSC Team of Instructors were outstanding in all aspects. Their willingness to promote the understanding of Space Sciences and Technology and their abundant and friendly interaction with Students and staff made the learning experience so much more enjoyable. KCSC are to be complimented on the excellent and outstanding work being performed by these incredible educators.

Highlights of the tour included such wonderful "hands on" training and events such as the Pro Ski and Scuba Company Training (http://www.scubadivingplanet.com/certification/71/) where students and staff immersed themselves in the amazing world of building structures in an ambient similar to zero gravity, where adjusting simple structures became quite an effort...... and then the Mosey Ropes Course http://www.mosey.net where students and staff were dangled from all angles and suspended from eerie heights, rock climbing and "foofie slides" , and the experience of climbing a pole 8m high in pairs and standing on a little ledge before plunging into space......quite unforgettable!

We had the wonderful opportunity to talk "live" with Clay Anderson American Astronaut, who had only returned from the ISS (International Space Station) to earth 72 hours before having the opportunity to have a ping pong with the South African students. He returned with a Russian spacecraft, Soyuz, and was being looked after by the Russian Space Program in their facility in Russia. Our thanks to Teresa and Joel, and Clay for making this possible. Our thanks also go to the Hutchinson Community College: Shears Technology Center and their Russian counterparts, for providing the interactive live satellite link with us.

The STS Missions in the STS Simulator were enjoyed by all and proved to be an exciting challenge for all. Teamwork was essential and coordination of pre flight, takeoff procedures, and landings had to be coordinated with Mission Controllers on the ground. There were many tense moments as working within timelines and conducting the procedures necessary for a safe flight for the crews was essential. Commanders held their crews lives on the line with the STS Landing at Kennedy space Centre at the end of the mission... not an easy feat when you are flying a winged brick falling out of the skies...

And then, on we went to our Graduation where we were each given our "Wings", - a very emotional experience! There were not only tears from students, but from the KCSC Staff as well. TCEF is proud to have been part of this wonderful educational program where a fun learning trip of this nature has managed to kindle the fires of peace, understanding, friendship and education between Nations of the world.

Our sincere congratulations to the wonderful team at KCSC for making this so special. Thanks to Joel, Teresa, Howie "G", Daniel, Laurie, Tom, Daniel, Trish and Jessica for making this so unforgettable. We will be back!

Thanks too, to Tom Hamilton and Ron Beyers of St Albans College and St Mary's DSG for their support in providing an bright and outstanding group of fine young future leaders who were excellent Ambassadors for both their School and Country. It was a pleasure sharing Barbara and Angela, teachers from St Albans and St Mary's DSG, who participated in every session with enthusiasm, dedication and hopefully will transmit their tour to students in the future.