Space Adventures for Every Age

space adventures for every age, travel, the three tomatoesFly Me to the Moon has always been one of my favorite songs. With the newest technologies available, along with new businesses literally flying people into outer space for a small fortune, flying to the moon is possible. Perhaps one day it will become as easy as taking a scheduled flight for an affordable price.

In the meantime, those of us who would like a real astronaut-like experience, and immersion travel at its very best, there is Cosmosphere, offering space adventures for every age. Yes, Dorothy, it is in Hutchinson, Kansas. They offer a wide variety of programming, including a two day Adult Astronaut Adventure training program; Elderhostel Astronaut Training: week-long program, Future Astronaut Training, Mars Academy, and Overnight Space Adventures for school age children; and astronaut and aviation camps for all ages, including tomatoes and partner tomatoes.

The adult Astronaut Adventure is a two day program for ages 18 and older, and includes briefings by the Cosmosphere’s staff, a tour of the Hall of Space Museum, and training on the Cosmosphere’s flight simulators. Participants experience the Centrifuge, a g-force trainer, and fly the T-38 Advanced Flight Simulator. Not only that, you will direct a lunar mission, participate in a Robotic Challenge, and end your adventure with a space shuttle mission aboard the motion-based shuttle simulator, the Falcon.

If you need accommodations, there is a package available that includes two nights lodging in a local hotel. Elderhostel Astronaut Training, for adults 55 years and older, has been featured on NBC, CNN, NPR, and in the New York Times.

The program includes educational briefings, rocket building, a tour of the Hall of Space Museum, and training on flight simulators, the Centrifuge, and the multi-axis trainer. Fly the T-38 Advanced Flight Simulator, plan a lunar rover mission, and fly a space shuttle mission aboard the shuttle simulator, Flacon III.

Register through the Elderhostel program, www.elderhostel.org, or call the national office in Boston, 1-877-426-8056, and add your name to the catalog list.

If you have grandchildren, or know young people who are intrigued by outer space, consider these programs for students. The Future Astronaut Training Program, recently celebrated its 25th year, is a five day, hands-on, fun-packed, learning experience. Students entering grades 7 through 10 will train in spaceflight simulators, engage in shuttle crew exercises, take virtual spacewalks, have g-force training, and participate in rocket building and many other activities. There is a maximum of 30 campers per session, so check the Web site for availability, session dates, and detailed information.

At the Mars Academy, students entering grades 5 and 6 will participate in a three-day program packed with space-related activities including building robots, performing science experiments, watching IMAX movies and visiting the planetarium, and planning a simulated mission to Mars. Students will stay in Hutchinson Community College dorms and eat in the cafeteria, supervised by staff and counselors.

Overnight Space Adventures, for students entering grades 4 through 6, includes activities scheduled in the Cosmosphere until midnight. Students arrive at 5PM, bring a sleeping bag, and sleep in the Cosmosphere. The fee includes supplies, evening meal, and breakfast, with children picked up at 10AM. Fly away. Easy landing. It’s worth a trip to Kansas.

For further information: Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center, 1100 North Plum, Hutchinson, KS 67501; 1-800-397-0330; 620-662-2305; www.cosmo.org/camps; laurieg@cosmo.org. Prices are affordable.

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