Local brothers head to outer space

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Photo above: Collin and Brock Durham at Space Camp. Not pictured: TJ Miller.

Brock Durham and his brother Collin, and JT Miller, all local residents and students at Bridges Prep, recently attended SPACE CAMP® at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center, in Huntsville, Alabama. The weeklong educational program promotes science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), while training students with hands-on activities and missions based on teamwork, leadership and decision-making.

Brock and JT were part of the Space Camp Program which is designed for elementary school students who have a particular interest in science and aerospace. With their other 14 crew members, they spent the week as part of a team that flew a simulated Space Shuttle mission to the International Space Station (ISS). Once aboard the ISS, the crew participated in experiments and successfully completed an extra-vehicular activity (EVA), or spacewalk. Space Camp trainees also climb the tallest mountain on the red planet with the Mars Climbing Wall and experience four times the gravity of Earth with the liftoff force of the Space Shot™ simulator. They get an astronaut’s view of Earth while watching amazing films in the IMAX® Spacedome Theater and Digital Theater. Brock and crew returned to Earth in time to hear retired Space Shuttle astronaut Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburger speak at their graduation.

Collin attended Space Academy for middle school students, a different program than what his brother participated in. Here he took a simulated walk on the moon in the 1/6th gravity chair and gained understanding of what it’s like to work in a frictionless environment in the manned maneuvering unit. His team built and launched a two-stage model rocket gaining teamwork and management skills at Area 51, the leadership reaction course. The trainees are equipped with modern spaceflight knowledge and as they prepare to be future space pioneers.

Space Camp operates year-round in Huntsville, Alabama, and uses astronaut training techniques to engage trainees in real-world applications of STEM subjects. Students sleep in quarters designed to resemble the ISS and train in simulators like those used by NASA. Nearly 700,000 trainees have graduated from Space Camp since its opening in Huntsville in 1982, including STS-131 astronaut Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburger and European Space Agency Astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti. Last year, children and teachers from all 50 states and 64 international locations attended Space Camp.