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Team Yukon rendezvous with a comet; spacecraft status unknown

Posted: Saturday, March 11, 2006

 

  Flight Director Dale Hershberger assists Team Yukon figure skater Kayla Hollonquist with important spacecraft maneuvers during Friday's space mission. Team Yukon is expected to return from the galaxies prior to the Closing Ceremonies tonight. Photo By Lee Johnson

Flight Director Dale Hershberger assists Team Yukon figure skater Kayla Hollonquist with important spacecraft maneuvers during Friday's space mission. Team Yukon is expected to return from the galaxies prior to the Closing Ceremonies tonight.

Photo By Lee Johnson

Twelve Team Yukon youth volunteers rocketed into space from the Arctic Winter Games leaving behind their Earth-bound comrades as they toured the galaxies.

Embarking on a simulated space mission to rendezvous with a comet, the crew—ranging from 12-17 years-old—blasted off from the Challenger Learning Center of Alaska on Friday. Their safe return to the Games is still in doubt, according to a Mission Control Communications officer who asked to remain anonymous.

To begin their journey to the stars, the young astronauts assembled in the orientation room and received a short educational presentation about comets and the rendezvous mission from Flight Directors Dale Hershberger and Ron Russell.

They were then split into two groups; one proceeded to the Mission Control Center, while the other entered the spacecraft. Each individual was assigned a duty to perform and a work station corresponding to their task. Each job is vital to the survival and safe return of the members on the spacecraft.

Teamwork and communication were two important skills that were exhibited between the two crews while trying to accomplish the five mission goals. Scratchy radio communications and several emergency situations made both outcomes challenging with the crews under intense pressure to accomplish the mission.

Near the halfway point of the mission, with alarms blaring and a flurry of commotion, the space travelers heard, “Space station, this is Mission Control. Over. We have a message for life support,” said Communications officer and Inuit competitor Sam Reimer.

Continuing his directions, Reimer informed the crew: “To solve the low humidity emergency onboard the spacecraft you need to touch the black metal bars at your station prior to touching the computer.”

“Repeat please,” said gymnast and spacecraft Communications officer Anna Rivard.

Repeating the directions, Reimers added to his now more urgent call, “you need to discharge static electricity, over. Situation is imminent,” he voiced through the mike.

“This is an emergency, this is not a drill,” exclaimed Reimer.

And with that, the crews broke out in laughter and alarms went silent with the disaster averted.

The Kenai center is one of 53 Challenger Learning Centers in the U.S, with one in the United Kingdom, and one in Toronto, Ontario.

Pending any further disasters, Team Yukon is expected to re-enter Earth’s atmosphere about 6 p.m. tonight, and touch down at the Soldotna Sports Center at 7 p.m., in time for the Closing Ceremonies.



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