At our Learning Center, you fly simulated space missions.
We offer the next best thing to actual space flight with
a Mission Control room designed after the NASA Johnson Space Center and an orbiting spacecraft.
When you arrive at a Challenger Learning Center, you are greeted by Flight Commanders that provide an
orientation briefing in which you are given an overview of the mission.
The Crew Manifest
Prior to the mission, a Flight Commander gives an overview of eight specialized teams, and creates a crew manifest by assigning each
participant a specialized job. Each person on the flight is assigned a partner on one of the eight teams.
Communications Team (COM)
"Mission Control, this is the space station. Do you copy? Over?" COM Officers facilitate verbal communication between the two locations. They are skilled in reading and oral communications, and have the ability to work in high stress situations while remaining focused on specific tasks.
The Communication team is responsible for all verbal messages between the Spacecraft and Mission Control. Communication through COM includes short messages, emergency messages, and messages without numerical data. COM is also responsible for prioritizing messages so that the most vital messages are sent first and special messages are sent when instructed by the Mission Commander or Flight Director. The team aboard the Spacecraft controls the view seen on the SS CAM 1 or SS CAM 2 monitors. These cameras allow Mission Control to view all areas of the Spacecraft.
Data Team (DATA)
DATA Officers transfer all electronic messages between Mission Control and the space station, and access the research video library on demand. DATA Officers are transferring (and receiving!) messages from six other teams. DATA Officers rely on strong reading and oral communications and good organization skills. The Data team is responsible for all communication between the Spacecraft and Mission Control. Long messages, messages with pictures, and messages with numerical data are forwarded by DATA to specific teams. Emergency messages and messages without numbers are printed and giving to the Communication Team (COM) to announce. DATA is also responsible for prioritizing messages so that the most vital messages are sent first. All messages are received and stored in the computer database for future reference. The Mission Control DATA team can access an image library and send these images to the Spacecraft.
Navigation Team (NAV)
Are we there yet? Navigation Officers can easily answer this one because they're responsible for navigating the spacecraft on its journey. They also coordinate launches and/or landings as the scenario requires. Navigation Officers have strong mathematics and reading skills, basic knowledge of coordinate geometry, basic knowledge of angle measurements, and an interest in astronomy.
Probe Team (PROBE)
As a member of the Probe Team, students assemble, deploy, and monitor one or more space probes launched during a mission. Depending on the mission scenario, the Probe Team must also coordinate with the Navigation Team for launching and landing the probe. The position requires strong mechanical skills, proficiency in mathematics and reading, analytical problem solving, and deduction skills.
Medical Team (MED)
How does living in space affect the human body? Medical Officers aboard the Spacecraft are tasked with testing all spacecraft astronauts for auditory and visual response time, respiration rate, skin temperature, and heart rate. Medical Officers in Mission Control view the results of tests as they are being conducted and entered into the computer. The Medical team in Mission Control uses a computer to research topics regarding the tests being performed on the Spacecraft. Skills required for this position include a strong interest in biology and proficiency in mathematics.
Remote Team (REM)
As members of the Remote Team, students work in a glovebox environment to analyze rock, mineral, and soil, insect and plant samples. The mission scenario determines the types of samples being analyzed. Depending upon the mission, the REM Team also operates a robotic arm to collect rock or plant samples for analysis.
Life Support Team (LS)
Life Support Team in the Spacecraft monitors temperature, air pressure, humidity levels, LiOH filter, oxygen systems, solar panels, and water sources. Water sources are tested for pH levels and for the total amount of dissolved solids (TDS). The Life Support team in Mission Control records and analyzes this data to determine if the results are within acceptable levels. The Life Support team in Mission Control uses a computer to research topics regarding the systems being monitored on the Spacecraft. The position requires strong problem solving skills and interest in environmental science and chemistry.
Isolation Team (ISO)
Isolation Team members use robotic arms to conduct research related to radioactivity, meteoroids, and hazardous materials at three isolated chambers aboard the Spacecraft. The ISO teams in Mission Control have video monitors to view experiments within the isolation chambers. They also have a computer to use for researching topics related to those experiments.
The group is divided into two, with half of the participants assigned to
Mission Control while the others are transported to the space station. At
the mission's midpoint, the partners exchange places so every participant can
experience both Mission Control and the Spacecraft.
During the mission, participants must accomplish specific tasks in order for
the mission to be a success. Astronauts on board the space station build
space probes, monitor life support functions, conduct experiments on items
taken from the surfaces of Mars or the Moon, and plot navigation courses for the spacecraft.
Engineers at Mission Control support these endeavors by answering the
astronauts' questions and providing necessary research. For the Navigation
and Probe Teams, astronauts rely completely on the engineers' instructions
and data necessary for them to complete their tasks.
When the mission is at full throttle, there is a flurry of messages between
Mission Control and the Spacecraft heard over loud speakers. Electronic
messages are sent back and forth. At any moment, emergency alarms and flashing
lights may signal hazardous conditions for the astronauts that need to be fixed.
Meanwhile, everyone must continue working to ensure that the mission's goal is accomplished.
The simulation provides participants with an exciting experience and numerous opportunities to test their skills and see if
they have "the right stuff" to complete the mission.