Archive for Thursday, July 27, 2000

Out of this world

Two Eudora students attend Hutchinson’s space camp this summer

July 27, 2000

Two Eudora youths recently discovered what it takes to have the right stuff and work in an environment out of this world at space camp.

Tori Tungent and Jared Pringle, both of Eudora, spent five days at the Future Astronaut Training Program. The program was at the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center, Hutchinson.

This was Tungent's first year for the program. Tungent said she first became interested in the program after visiting with her girl scout troop last year. She looked into the program, but said her interest started about three years ago.

"Actually, I was a lot younger," said 11-year-old Tungent. "In fourth or fifth grade we started learning about space and I decided to become an astronaut because I like learning about space."

She saved babysitting and birthday money, sold arts and crafts and earrings and painted her grandparents' shed so she could split the cost with her parents and enroll.

During her five-day stay, Tungent and eight other teams of five learned how to pilot a space shuttle, use a moonrover to collect rocks and launch a satellite. With simulations and actual vehicles, the teams worked together to complete missions.

Tungent said the program helped her understand what is required of astronauts and what she needed to do to prepare for her future.

"I learned that to be a mission specialist astronaut, you don't have to be in the air force," she said. "I'm kind of glad I learned that, because now I know where I should go to get what I need to become an astronaut."

At the end of the program, the students flew a simulated mission where they launched from Earth, deployed a satellite, then returned to earth. Luckily, Tungent said, there was no chance of crashing and burning.

"You can't crash because they have it on autopilot," Tungent said.

Although he's not sure if he wants to be an astronaut, Pringle said he did want to work in the science field someday. Having attended the level I program in 1998, this year he attended level II. To get into the level II program, applicants must write an essay of fewer than 75 words describing what they learned in level I and what they hope to learn in level II.

Pringle said the first lesson he learned was to get the essay in on time.

"I sent it in a day later and I was fifth on the waiting list," Pringle said. "It fills up real fast."

The level II program had students complete the level I ending mission on the third day instead of the last, then they traveled to Houston for two days where they met with astronauts and viewed actual training simulators used by NASA.

"We had a banquet and met this one astronaut that's been up there about seven times in space," Pringle said. "I learned that there's more than just astronauts in the program. For every one astronaut, there's probably 400 working (behind the scenes)."

Pringle said the experience taught him how much more there is to learn about space. For him, this experience has answered some of the questions he had about space before the programs.

"You don't really know much about it and what (astronauts) really do," Pringle said. "Now it's even neater because you know what's going on and you want to be a part of it."

Mothers Brigitte Pringle and Theresa Tungent, agreed the program was a unique experience and was beneficial.

"I think he learned a lot just by the exposure," said Brigitte Pringle. "He didn't have to study or memorize anything but he's learned a lot."

Theresa Tungent agreed.

"You could tell she really enjoyed the program," she said. "They had a lot of hands-on experience."

The cost of the level I program is $565 and level II is $595. Anyone wanting more information on the programs may call the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center at (316) 662-2305.

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