Benda completes astronaut camp

Lonnie Benda of Hillsboro attended Level 1 of the Future Astronaut Training Program at the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center in Hutchinson.

Benda, son of Karen Benda, is in the 10th grade at Hillsboro High School.

Developed by Cosmosphere staff, the intense week-long program incorporates actual astronaut training with briefings on subjects ranging from how the body reacts to spaceflight to principles of rocketry.

Campers also receive up-to-date human spaceflight news.

The nationally recognized camp strives to motivate and inspire careers in space-related industries in an environment that emphasizes teamwork and problem solving.

During the week, campers train on simulators related to both manned and unmanned spaceflight.

Using the Manned Maneuvering Unit, they experience the delicate art of space walking.

Campers also launch rockets, practice solar observation techniques, and perform stress testing, GPS activities, and rescue ball exercise.

Directing a lunar rover mission much like the Mars Sojourner, they guide a computer-controlled rover around rocks and craters while picking up samples to return to “Earth.”

Campers also learn how to control body movement on a multi-axis trainer and feel the sensation of lift-off in the Centrifuge, a g-force trainer.

The week culminates with the campers flying their own space shuttle mission aboard the Cosmosphere’s state-of-the-art space shuttle simulator, the Falcon III.

Future Astronaut Training Program participants learn about the history of the space program in the Cosmosphere’s Hall of Space Museum, which houses one of the largest space artifact collections in the world.

As one of the country’s top residential space education programs for students entering grades 7-10, more than 10,000 participants from across the country and around the world have graduated from the Cosmosphere’s Future Astronaut Training Program since its inception in 1985.

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