Follow Your Curiosity

We began preparation for launch on an early Saturday morning, and landed in “Rocket City”, Huntsville only a few hours later – exclusive of the fifteen hour time difference!

Our adventure launched at Space Camp, consisting of four out-of-this-world days of presentations, activities – including scuba diving, the pamper pole and astronaut PT – and astronaut simulations, such as the MAT and 1/6 gravity chair. In addition to this, we had the opportunity to be taught by expert trainers and execute three mock missions, including an abort and various anomalies, both medically and system-related, with similar technologies to those at NASA.

Our final and successful mission was a three-hour EDM on Mars, staged in three different theatres: the Orion capsule, a base on Mars’ moon, Phobos, and Mission Control in Houston. By the end of the week, we had all become Space Camp Advanced Academy Alumni, and even seized the ‘Outstanding Team’ award alongside some newfound friends from Cairns, standing testimony for our harmonious cooperation as a united front in all of our team challenges.

Space Camp 1

Coming into second-stage, we touched down in Orlando and embraced our ‘mission checklist’, fuelled with ambition: we were lifted-off in the confines of iFly, experiencing indoor sky-diving in a vertical wind tunnel; journeyed around the foreign environment of the Everglades on airboats; ventured to NASA’s Kennedy Space Centre and had lunch with astronaut, Mr Bruce Melnick before escaping from space for a day at Universal Studios. Here,  we were fortunate enough to learn about the mechanics and technological processes behind the thrilling rides we would later enjoy.

The orbital stage, San Francisco, allowed us to see the busier side of America as we were stationed in the heart of Union Square and participated in multiple ‘EVAs’ (External-Vehicular Activities) throughout the week. In the windy atmosphere of the City of Golden Gate, we first were boated out to Alcatraz Island: a confine of history that spans from a bird sanctuary to a military base, federal prison for some of the most well-known American prisoners, such as Al Capone, and and now a national park. We were able to experience a haunting view of the old prison through testimonials from past prisoners and officers, even meeting an officer who served for three years. After a short visit to the sea lions at Fisherman’s Wharf, we ventured to the Exploratorium and examined thought-provoking concepts pioneered by people all over the world. Our adventure continued on the ‘hop-on-hop-off’ bus around the city, stopping off at iconic San Franciscan locations, such as Lombard Street, and even walked across the Golden Gate Bridge.

Our look into STEM through our very own ‘Cupola’ was widened throughout the week with guided visits to the NIF, Intel and Computer History Museums. We then prepared for descent into the atmosphere of our regular, daily lives, as we reminisced on the amazing experiences that we had just endured during the previous 15 days.

Altogether, our mission was very successful and has demonstrated the extensive window of opportunity for women in the STEM field. Our love for learning and curiosity over such complex concepts fostered an environment that encouraged both intellectual challenges and personal growth in many ways.

We would like to thank Ms Andrews, Ms Brandt and Ms Carter for facilitating what has been an outstanding experience that we will forever remember. It truly was a blast.

Maybe, just maybe, you’ll see one of us on Mars one day, kindling the undeniable spark that the trip ignited within us.

Demi Markakis

Year 10

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