An aspiring astronaut flew to Huntsville, Alabama, to spend six days at a NASA space camp learning everything she would need to help make her galactic dreams a reality.
Lena Gedat, a year-13 student at Christ’s Hospital near Horsham, was inspired to apply when she watched a film about Space Camp and saw it mentioned on the NASA website. Lena, who was already fascinated by science, space and the thrilling lives of astronauts, felt like she had to go.
The Space Camp, however, soon made all her efforts worthwhile.
She joined budding astronauts from across the US and 150 countries worldwide for a variety of activities based on real-life astronaut training.
She took to gravity chairs, underwater astronaut trainers and multi-axis trainers to experience the neutral bouyancy of space. She also honed her teamwork skills, designing and eventually launching a mini-team rocket, as well as helping design a heat-shield and space rover.
Highlights for Lena included the three space mission simulations, during which Lena got to act as a space shuttle pilot, capsule communicator in mission control and mission scientist on a space station.
Remembering her experience, Lena said: “Before I came to Christ’s Hospital, I wasn’t very interested in science, but since starting here I have had such amazing science teachers and lessons that I really got into it.
“I realised that being an astronaut unites everything I am interested in and passionate about – sport, science and languages.
“The thought of cruising around space in weightlessness really fascinates me, plus the fact it is so hard to become an astronaut makes me want to do it even more.
“One of the NASA crew currently on the International Space Station is an American woman who went to space camp when she was 16 years old, and that really inspires me.
“It means she has successfully pursued her dream.
“Overall, the camp has definitely inspired me and increased my wish to become an astronaut.”
Lena’s idol is not the only Space Camp graduate working for NASA today. Ten former Space Camp graduates went on to become fully fledged graduates and other alumni have gone on to work as scientists, engineers, researchers and technologists for NASA and beyond.
Lena’s is looking forward to taking her training forward and one day exploring the stars.