UK Rocketry Challenge Winners land in Houston, Texas!
The prize for the winners of the UKAYRoC 2010 was, for the first time, a trip to Houston, Texas for a week long Space/Engineering experience. The trip was organised by the IPN, on behalf of the partnership who run the UK Rocketry Challenge (Space Connections, the Royal Astronautical Society and ADS).
The program for the trip was developed jointly by The IPN and Space Connections to ensure a good mix of, educational, cultural and social activities. The following paragraphs are an account of the trip by the group of young people who had an out of this world experience!
A week in the life of the winners of the UKAYRoC 2010……
Monday and Tuesday
The team started their trip at Space Centre Houston visitor’s centre where they were able to learn about the history of the NASA space exploration. The Johnson Space Center was the next stop where they had a once in a lifetime opportunity to go on a VIP back room tour. They saw the Space Agency at work, visiting various testing/training facilities and met with NASA Astronauts, Engineers and Scientists in their real work environment.
On the Tuesday evening the team were invited to dinner at the home of a former NASA scientist. This was great opportunity for the team to mingle and talk to the scientists about their role with NASA and how they became involved. There was also an open mic session which gave some of the students the opportunity to show off some of their own musical skills, alongside their new NASA friends.
The team visited the Houston Memorial where they learned about the History of Houston , who Sam Houston was and what part he played in shaping the state of Texas. Then it was time for some retail therapy at one of the local shopping Malls before an evening at a local games arcade where they indulged their competitive side playing Laser Tag, Ten Pin Bowling and Pool.
The team visited the Science and Natural History Museum in down town Houston where they learned about the history of Houston and the Oil and Gas productions within the State. The Museum is also home to the local IMAX cinema where they got to see the movie of the astronauts repairing the Hubble Telescope in space, all in 3D. That evening the team indulged in some cultural essentials, visiting a local school to watch an American Football match, and experiencing the infamous Chilli Dog!
Kemah Boardwalk is one of Houston’s coastal attractions which looks out to the Gulf of Mexico. The team spent a day experiencing a typical US fun fair and soaking up the relaxed, fun atmosphere by the ocean. The day was rounded off at a Barbecue at a NASA scientists home, where the team shared a sausage with more Astronauts, Engineers and Scientists and heard all about their space exploits and how they got to be where they are today.
The team were VIP guests at the Wings over Houston Air Show where they witnessed memorial flights and saw some of the latest technology in Aerospace. There were plenty of NASA pilots on hand who were happy to talk about their training and flight experience. The final evening was spent at a traditional style American sports diner.
In summary, the trip was a great mix of History, culture and aerospace activities, particular favourites being the tour of Johnson Space Center and the American Football game. In the words of one of the students ‘the trip was outstanding; a truly life changing experience…!”