MOUNT VERNON — This past summer, 13-year-old William Salvucci, an eighth-grader at St. Vincent de Paul School, had a firsthand look at what it takes to be an astronaut.
He attended the Air Force Space Camp in Huntsville, and spent six action-packed days learning about things like friction and gravity, conducting scientific experiments and training on a variety of simulators.
The simulators were William’s favorite part of Space Academy. “They were really interactive,” he said. “They had a ton of switches we had to learn, but once you figure out how to use them, you can learn how to do maneuvers and everything. And you can see other people on other simulators on your screen. Being a simulated astronaut was really fun. ... I got to put on a real space suit. The suits were annoying, and I didn’t like them much. The helmets were really thick, and the boots were kind of thick.”
William said the space shuttle simulator was very realistic. “The shuttle interior has 300 switches that are operational. There are other things you can operate. It was pretty intense. They give you these checklist books the astronauts use. An astronaut has to be really detail-oriented. We didn’t operate all of the switches, but the commander and pilot did a ton of switches. They had to enter all these codes to open up the bay doors. It was pretty tough.”