Space Camp re­cruit envy of class­mates

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By AN­DREA O’NEIL

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.

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