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Aspiring Astronauts Get Taste of Space with New Camp at Iowa State

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AMES, Iowa - It's one small step in the journey to becoming an astronaut, but one huge step for these engineering students at Iowa State University.

The very first space flight operations workshop, hosted by the Aerospace Engineering Department at the university, is designed to introduce the skills needed for students who aspire to become astronauts.

"If we can grow students who are more qualified, more operational, perhaps we can get companies to come look at Iowa State to give these students jobs," said Clayton Anderson, a former astronaut, current faculty-member and organizer for the camp. "And isn't that what it's all about, right?"

The week-long workshop includes scuba certification training, as the extremes underwater and in outer space are very similar. It also allows the students to go skydiving and take a course on wilderness survival training - all skills that are transferable to space flight operations, according to Anderson.

"We want our students to stand out, and they do. But we want it to be even more prevalent that they stand out in the field of operations," Anderson said.

Anderson said over 50 students applied for the program, and only six were selected. His hope is that into the future, the university can expand the program to include more participants.