Late last year, five teenagers from all over Ireland travelled over to the US to attend the 23rd International Space Camp for visually impaired kids and teenagers.
On our way, over due to an unexpected technical problem with our plane in Atlanta, we got to stay in a five-star hotel overnight for free. It was amazing. Yummy food and a comfy bed. The next day we got a plane to Huntsville Alabama where we started our space adventures.
There were over 200 teenagers from across 22 US states, Australia, Ireland, St Lucia, Israel and Trinidad and Tobago. My team was called Von Tiesenhausen or Von T for short.
Georg Von Tiesenhausen was a German-American rocket scientist, who was brought to the US in 1953 as part of Operation Paperclip. He was part of Wernher Von Braun‘s team at the US army and later NASA. He is credited with the first complete design of the Lunar Rover and made a variety of other contributions to the space program.
During the week-long camp, we had four missions in total to complete called alpha, brava, charley and one six hour mission called EDM (Extended Duration Mission).
I was asked by my team to perform the role of INCO (Integrated Communications Officer) and Medical Doctor as they felt I had the skills for this role. I was delighted as all the boys were sent to space in the Enterprise Orbiter to complete a repair mission at the ISS (International Space Station) and all the girls remained in Mission Control with all the power!
We had the best of fun as a team completing all the tasks and keeping everyone alive in space. My team won the overall team award presented at the end of camp. This award is given to the team that works best together to achieve their goals, whilst supporting one another in times of crisis and difficulty.
We got involved in many team building activities which were quite challenging to say the least especially if you have a fear of heights! They involved climbing a 50ft ladder and zip lining off a tower while your teammates were working together to keep you safe on the wires.
Another team activity involved climbing up a telephone pole, balancing and then jumping off (petrifying).
We learnt all about rocket design and we actually made our own rocket and successfully launched it.
An Alabama TV news channel paid a visit to see what we were doing in Space Camp.
They asked me all about myself and I spoke about why NASA Space Camp is so successful helping people to learn about effective teamwork, communication and leadership skills.
My time in Space Camp was hugely educational. However, the memories that I will be taking home most of all, are of the people I met and the friendships and bonds that were made between teenagers from all over the world.