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Alabama's Space Camp brings thrill to kid campers

Reporter: Roee Ruttenberg 丨 CCTV.com

09-08-2016 13:05 BJT

Every year, thousands of children in the US get a first hand space experience at summer camps. CCTV's reporter travels to the biggest US space camp in Huntsville, Alabama.

Seamus Hoolahan says he remembers looking at the stars and wondering what's out there? when he was just three years old.

Now, at age 15, he's attending a sleep-away camp in Alabama. That's dedicated exclusively to answering that question.

"Space excites me, because you can't reach an end to it. And, it is the natural progression of life on earth, that we conquer things here on earth and then move out into the stars and keep on broadening our horizons," said Seamus Hoolahan, Space Camp participant.

Hoolahan is one of thousands of American children who choose to spend their summers at the U.S. Space, Rocket Center, known as Space Camp.

Whilestuck on earth, the kids get to experience what life beyond its orbit might look - and feel - like.

"Most of us, when we are proficient at something, we've started when we were very young. That's the time when our mind is open, when our imagination is alive and working. And I think that's the time to engage people in the idea of what they can accomplish," said Deborah Barnhart, CEO of Space Camp.

Having a few former astronauts on hand helps. Bob Stewart logged nearly 300 hours in space, and now volunteers at the camp.

He said, "When teachers, particularly, or kids - those few that have a burning interest in it - can talk to the people who actually did it, about how they did it and why they did it. Then you begin to build this interest, and okay, what can I do in the future to go beyond what these guys did."

It's been nearly 50 years since an American astronaut became the first person to step on the moon. It was dubbed 'a giant leap for mankind'. A moment captured in time, it was shown over the years to millions of American youth. Camp organizers are hoping the next giant leap will start right here."

"There's no doubt in my mind that one of the young people coming through our program today is going to be one of the travelers to Mars," Deborah Barnhart also said.

Each year, the U.S. Space Agency, NASA, spends around $100 million on education. But it's programs like these that are largely credited with helping inspire American children to care about space.

And it's contagious, and spreading abroad. Ben McGrath came to Space Camp from Ireland, and is now fixing a cooling system on one of Mars' moons.

And these kids from an Indian school in Dubai now know what tumbling out of control in space would feel like.

Hoolahan says the space experience is literally universal.

"It's always there. No matter where you are in the world you can always wonder what's up there," Seamus Hoolahan also said.

Tonight, he's one step closer to finding out.

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