One of the questions most folks ask about Space Camps is "Has anyone from Space Camps became an astronaut?" The answer is definitively yes.
Space Camp in Huntsville for instance, anxiously awaited the recent announcement of the 2017 NASA Astronaut Class to discover two of the 12 new astronaut candidates are Space Camp alumni: Maj. Jasmin Moghbeli and Robert, "Bob" Hines. These amazing 12 individuals were chosen from a unprecedented 18,300 applicants.
Jasmin and Bob join the ranks of five other Space Camp alumni from Alabama who came as children and have gone on to the astronaut corps. The members of the 2017 class become full-fledged astronauts after completing two years of rigorous training.
Learn more about some of the astronauts who attended Space Camps and their accomplishments, beginning with the newest two extraordinary astronaut candidates:
1) Robert "Bob" Hines
Robert, "Bob" Hines received his commission from Air Force Officer Training School in 1999. He completed Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training at Columbus Air Force Base in Mississippi. Upon completion of pilot training, he remained at Columbus as a T-37 instructor pilot. At the time of his astronaut selection in June, 2017, Hines was a Research Pilot for the Aircraft Operations Division of the Flight Operations Directorate at NASA’s Johnson Space Center. He was also serving in the U.S. Air Force Reserves as the F-15E Program Test Director and Test Pilot the at the F-15 Operational Flight Program Combined Test Force, 84th Test & Evaluation Squadron, Eglin Air Force Base in Florida.
Bob attended Space Camp at the age of 14 in 1989. In a recent Reddit “Ask Me Anything” with the new astronaut class, Bob said Space Camp “fanned the flame” and grew his interest in spaceflight.
2) Maj. Jasmin Moghbeli
Maj. Jasmin Moghbeli was born in Germany, but considers Baldwin, N.Y., her hometown. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Aerospace Engineering with Information Technology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, followed by a master’s degree in Aerospace Engineering from the Naval Postgraduate School. She is also a distinguished graduate of the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School and has accumulated more than 1,600 hours of flight time and 150 combat missions.
At the time of her astronaut candidate section, she was testing H-1 helicopters and serving as the quality assurance and avionics officer for Marine Operational Test and Evaluation Squadron 1 of the U.S. Marine Corps in Yuma, Arizona.
Jasmin attended Advanced Space Academy in 1998 when she was 15 years old, and referenced her experience in a recent article in “The New Yorker".
3) Dottie Metcalf-Lindenbergur
Although a trip to Space Camp at the age of 14 opened up a world of possibilities for Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburger, it was a question from one of her eighth-grade astronomy students that really changed her life. The frequently asked question of “how do astronauts use the bathroom in space” led the young teacher to NASA’s website where the Educator Astronaut position had just been posted. Metcalf-Lindenburger had long been a science enthusiast and considers herself a sort of teacher for all people; the opportunity could not have been more perfect. So when she was selected as the youngest member of the 2004 Educator Astronaut Candidate Class, it was literally a dream come true. In February 2006, she completed Astronaut Candidate Training, which included scientific and technical briefings, intensive instruction in shuttle and International Space Station systems, physiological training, T-38 flight training and water and wilderness survival training. Completion of this initial training qualified her for technical assignments within the Astronaut Office and future flight assignment. After completion of her astronaut training, Dottie was assigned to the STS-131 crew and flew to the International Space Station on the Space Shuttle Discovery in April 2010 – exactly 20 years to the month after graduating from Space Academy. Dottie is the first Space Camp graduate to reach space. She has logged more than 362 hours in space.
After her space flight, she worked as a Cape Crusader for the final three shuttle missions. She also supported the Astronaut Office Station Operation Branch as a lead for the provisions, manifests and stowage. In June 2012, Dottie commanded the NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations (NEEMO) 16. In this underwater habitat, the international crew of four aquanauts and two habitat technicians carried out simulated spacewalks to investigate the techniques and tools that may be used at a Near Earth Asteroid (NEA).
4) Samantha Cristoforetti
Samantha is a 1995 alumna of Space Camp in Huntsville, a captain in the Italian Air Force and currently an astronaut with the European Space Agency. Samantha graduated from the Italian Air Force Academy in Pozzuoli, Italy, in 2005, and from 2005 to 2006, she was based at Sheppard Air Force Base in Texas. After completing the Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training, she became a fighter pilot and was assigned to the 132nd Squadron, 51st Bomber Wing, based in Istrana, Italy. From 2007 to 2008, she flew the MB-339 and served in the Plan and Operations Section for the 51st Bomber Wing in Istrana. In 2008, she joined the 101st Squadron, 32nd Bomber Wing, based at Foggia, Italy, where she completed operational conversion training for the AM-X ground attack fighter. Samantha has logged more than 500 hours flying six types of military aircraft: SF-260, T-37, T-38, MB-339A, MB-339CD and AM-X.
Samantha was selected as an European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut in May 2009, and completed basic astronaut training in November 2010. In July 2012, she was assigned to an Italian Space Agency ASI mission aboard the International Space Station - Expedition 42/43, which launched on a Soyuz spacecraft from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan in December 2014. This was the second long-duration ASI mission and the eighth long-duration mission for an ESA astronaut. In her 2016 mission, Samantha set the record for the longest single space flight by a woman and the longest uninterrupted spaceflight of a European astronaut. When not in training in the USA, Russia, Canada or Japan, Samantha is based at the European Astronaut Centre in Cologne, Germany.
5) Kate Rubins
Dr. Kate Rubins became the third Space Camp alumna to fly in space when she launched to the International Space Station in July 2016. Kate dreamed of becoming an astronaut as a child and did chores around the house to earn her trip to Space Camp in seventh grade. She left camp knowing she needed to take as many math and science courses as she could, and that focus paved the way to her study of viral diseases and, ultimately, the NASA astronaut corps. Kate received a bachelor's degree in molecular biology and a Ph.D. in cancer biology. Selected by "Popular Science" magazine as one of its "Brilliant 10" in 2009, Kate was a Fellow and Principal Investigator at the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology before becoming a member of the 20th NASA astronaut class.
On July 7, 2016, Kate launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan to the International Space Station aboard the first test flight of the new Soyuz MS spacecraft. Together the international crew of Expeditions 48 and 49 conducted or participated in more than 275 different scientific experiments, including research in molecular and cellular biology, human physiology, fluid and combustion physics, Earth and space science and technology development. Kate was the first person to sequence DNA in space, eventually sequencing more than 2 billion base pairs of DNA during a series of experiments to analyze sequencing in microgravity. She also grew heart cells (cardiomyocytes) in cell culture, and performed quantitative, real-time PCR and microbiome experiments in orbit.
Kate conducted two spacewalks totaling 12 hours, 46 minutes. During her first spacewalk, Kate and astronaut Jeff Williams installed the first International Docking Adapter, a new docking port for U.S. commercial crew spacecraft. During the second, they performed maintenance of the station external thermal control system and installed high-definition cameras, enabling never-before seen images of the planet and space station. They also successfully captured the SpaceX Dragon commercial resupply spacecraft and then returned science experiment samples to earth.
6) Christina Hammock Koch
Christina M. Hammock Koch was selected as an astronaut by NASA in 2013. She completed astronaut candidate training in July 2015, and is currently assigned to the International Space Station Crew Operations Branch. In this position, she is involved in crew conferences and IT-related issues onboard the station. Koch, a native of Michigan, graduated from North Carolina State University with a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering and Physics and a Master of Science in Electrical Engineering.
Koch graduated from the NASA Academy program at Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) in 2001. She worked as an Electrical Engineer in the Laboratory for High Energy Astrophysics at GSFC from 2002 to 2004. Koch was selected in June 2013, as one of eight members of the 21st NASA astronaut class. Her Astronaut Candidate Training included scientific and technical briefings, intensive instruction in International Space Station systems, spacewalks, robotics, physiological training, T‐38 flight training and water and wilderness survival training. She completed astronaut candidate training in July 2015, and is currently aboard the International Space Station, serving as a Flight Engineer on Expedition 59, 60, and 61.
7) Serena M. Auñón-Chancellor
Dr. Serena M. Auñón-Chancellor began working with NASA as a Flight Surgeon in 2006. In 2009, she was selected as a NASA astronaut. During her NASA career, Serena supported medical operations for International Space Station crew members. She also served as Deputy Crew Surgeon for STS-127 and spent 2 months in Antarctica from 2010 to 2011 searching for meteorites as part of the ANSMET expedition. Most of that time was spent living on the ice 200 nautical miles from the South Pole. In June 2012, Serena operated the Deep Worker submersible as part of the NEEMO 16 mission. She subsequently served as an Aquanaut aboard the Aquarius underwater laboratory during the NEEMO 20 undersea exploration mission. Board certified in both Internal and Aerospace Medicine, Serena currently handles medical issues for both the Commercial Crew and International Space Station Operations branch.
She graduated in November 2011, from Astronaut Candidate Training, which included scientific and technical briefings, intensive instruction in space station systems, spacewalks, robotics, physiological training, T-38 flight training and water and wilderness survival training. Currently, Serena spends most of her time handling medical issues for both the International Space Station Operations branch and Commercial Crew Branch. She is also certified as an International Space Station CAPCOM and served as the lead Capcom for the SpaceX-4 and SpaceX-8 cargo resupply missions.
8) Sandy Magnus
Dr. Sandra Magnus was selected by NASA in April 1996, and reported to the Johnson Space Center in August 1996. She completed two years of training and evaluation and became qualified for flight assignment as a Mission Specialist. In August 2000, she served as a Capsule Communicator (CAPCOM) for the International Space Station. In October 2002, she flew aboard STS-112, making her the first official Space Camp Astronaut to fly in space.
In July 2005, Dr. Magnus was assigned to the station expedition corps and began training for a future station long-duration mission. She flew to the station with the crew of STS-126, launching on November 14 and arriving at the station on Nov. 16, 2008, where she joined Expedition 18. Following her station mission, Dr. Magnus served six months at NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C., working in the Exploration Systems Mission Directorate. In July 2011, Dr. Magnus flew as a mission specialist on the crew of STS 135/ULF7, an ISS cargo delivery mission that carried the Multi Purpose Logistics Module (MPLM), “Raffaello.” She became Deputy Chief of the Astronaut Office, in September 2012. Dr. Magnus left the agency in October 2012, after being appointed Executive Director of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA).
Dr. Magnus has a different story than the majority of our astronaut alumni. She did not attend camp as a child. She attended a weekend Adult Space Academy in 1991, while a student at Georgia Tech.
America’s Best Space Camps
Camp Kennedy Space Center
Kennedy Space Center on Florida’s Space Coast is across the river from Cape Canaveral, the site of many exciting rocket launches. The Kennedy Space Center weeklong day camps immerse campers in STEM-based activities as they problem-solve for mission planning. Kids may tour the interactive Kennedy Space Center, participate in astronaut training and spend a virtual day on Mars. Sessions open in early June and run through July. Programs are available for second through eleventh-grade students. Tuition includes lunch and snacks.
Virginia Space Flight Academy
Virginia Space Flight Academy is designed for middle school students aged 11 – 15. This residential camp holds weeklong sessions that end with graduation from the Space Flight Academy. Campers learn rocketry by building their own rocket using CAD design and 3D printers. In the Robotics program, kids are challenged to design robots using Lego Mindstorm kits.
Camp activities include field trips to the nearby NASA Wallops Flight Facility, the NOAA weather facility and the Navy’s Surface Combat System Center. In the evening, a variety of activities ensures campers don’t miss out on traditional summertime fun such as miniature golf, go-cart racing and trips to the ice cream stand.
U.S. Space Camp
Space Camp is surrounded by one of the nation’s largest research parks. Its alumni include NASA astronauts, scientists and engineers. The program is open to fourth grade through high school students. The residential camp offers immersive experiences in space, aviation, robotics and cyber technologies. Space Camp activities include rocket construction, simulated launches to the International Space Station and design and construction of a Mars colony. Special programs are offered for hearing, visually impaired and other special need campers.