Space Camp recruit envy of classmates
Tawa College student Connor Hale has stars in his eyes and is shooting for the moon – and not just figuratively.
The 16-year-old is one of just four New Zealanders to be selected for a week at USA International Space Camp this July.
Connor will travel to Huntsville, Alabama, to join 150 fellow space-lovers from 23 countries for a week-long immersion in space science and exploration.
He will get hands-on astronaut training at the camp, including aircraft simulation, undergoing four Gs of lift-off force and experiencing zero gravity in a space simulator.
Getting chosen from 400 Kiwi applicants for the trip was overwhelming, Connor says.
‘‘I had to sit down and take it in. It was pretty cool.’’
His win has inspired envy among fellow pupils and even the school staff.
‘‘My maths teacher says if I’m sick he’ll go for me.’’
Connor has been keen on astronomy since he started high school and became involved with Tawa College’s space club. Every clear Friday night up to 30 pupils search for planets and constellations under the guidance of teacher Chris Monigatti.
Connor does not dream of becoming an astronaut – flying planes interests him more – but his real goal is to become a biomechanic working in the health sector.
‘‘I enjoy taking apart all the hospital equipment,’’ he says. ‘‘ Both my parents work in hospitals and their stories have put me off working in one but working around one I reckon I could deal with.’’
Connor gets 80 per cent of his travel costs funded by a Ministry of Science and Innovation award, and plans to sell chocolate and seek a grant from the RSA to cover the rest.
Former Tawa College student Patrick Sharp was a 2008 winner of the Space Camp trip. Connor has been in touch with him to get an idea of what the week will bring.