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The Astronaut Challenge
The Astronaut Challenge
Diane Croy
Monday, March 04, 2019


The Student Astronaut Challenge is a nonprofit, aerospace- linked, STEM competition. This competition is middle and high school based and encourages the best and brightest students to become more interested in science and aerospace technology. Every year, the Student Astronaut Challenge (SAC) competition takes place at the Kennedy Space Center where 200 middle and high school students gather and compete in four main events. Each year there is a prompt that the students must follow. Bella McCaffrey, a member of the RHMS STEM SAC team, stated “this year our prompt was resilience.”

Just because they made it on the team does not mean it wasn’t hard getting there. The members of the SACT, McCaffrey said, “have to study an 87 page manual” and that still does not ensure a spot on the team. After studying the manual thoroughly, the students will take two tests, but only the top ten highest scores will get a spot on one of the two teams. The members of the team include Natalie Cuson, Lindsey Ott, Amelia Wickline, Joanna Xiao, Amy Li and Jolie Claudio, Ella Blakeborough, Aiden Gray, Emily Stidams, Joseph Gibson, Tristan Mateo, Emily Bradshaw, and of course, the alternate for the team, Bella McCaffrey. Each member of the teams is assigned a position. Positions include commander, pilot, flight engineer, mission control, and advise council.

The competition has four main events, space flight simulation challenge, landing simulation challenge, aerospace engineering challenge, and space science laboratory challenge. To prepare for the big competition, the young astronauts learn how to use the simulator. The simulator mimics the experience of lifting off the ground and into the atmosphere while mission control tells the people in the “rocket” what to do. For the lab challenge, they have to do research and make a slideshow about resilience.  The SACT practices from late September to early February. There is a space simulator in the STEM room that the teams practice on to prepare for competition.  With the competition only a month away, we hope all their hard work pays off!