Many young people dream of blasting off to the International Space Station in a rocket, especially those who live in or near the Rocket City – Huntsville, Alabama. Fittingly, two Alabama Wing cadets in the area have created a way for their fellow cadets to experience the excitement of a space mission without leaving the ground.
North Alabama is home to historic names in space exploration, like Huntsville’s Marshall Space Flight Center and Decatur’s United Launch Alliance. Titans of the space industry have designed spacecraft like SpaceX and Blue Origin in Huntsville.
And how could Civil Air Patrol cadets focused on aerospace not be inspired by the Saturn V rocket standing outside the U.S. Space and Rocket Center?
Cadet Col. Nehemiah Groder and Cadet Maj. Ben Lambertson wanted to share their excitement for spaceflight with their fellow cadets in the Redstone Composite Squadron. They wondered how they could involve all 83 cadets in a mission.
The answer was a multistation software simulation that replicated a launch, an orbital flight culminating in a docking with the space station, all the way to a splashdown.
Cadets divided into groups: Some were the crew in the capsule, some were mission control, some were even television journalists reporting the launch live. Each team had a screen providing unique controls and data relevant to their roles. The screens showed a realistic 3D modeling of the rocket, Kennedy Space Center’s Space Launch Complex 40, and the space station.
The teams worked together to achieve a proper launch sequence, requiring them to demonstrate attention to detail. Located in separate rooms during the event, cadets were required to practice their radio communication skills.
As the simulation progressed, challenges were randomly inserted into the scenario. Overcoming them required practicing teamwork to solve the problems.
Best of all – everyone had a ton of fun.
The cadets responsible for designing, coding, and executing the simulation have each forged a record of success in Civil Air Patrol.
Groder is former squadron cadet commander, has participated in numerous National Cadet Special Activities, and in February became one of the less than one-half of 1% of cadets who have achieved the organization’s top cadet honor, the Gen. Carl A. Spaatz Award.
Lambertson has held held numerous staff positions and led many Redstone Composite Squadron teams to national STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) competitions. He also has his own development company – Ace Simulations (acesimulations.com).
2nd Lt. Chris Butera
Public Affairs Officer