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Delhi kids get to walk on the moon

New Delhi: Walking on the moon is a dream that each one of us has harboured at some point, but three students from Delhi-NCR actually got to do it. Well, almost.

At a space camp in the US Space and Rocket Center (USSRC), Harshita Puri, Pranav Kaushik and S Aditya, all class 12 students, were part of a week- long programme during which they joined a team of 320 students from 45 countries, training as astronauts and experiencing the life of NASA astronauts and scientists.

Sharing her experience, Harshita from Greenwood Public School in Gurgaon said, “It was a lot of fun and a totally new experience. We were tied to a rope and there was very less gravity. The earth was not pulling us and we had to put a lot of energy to come down.”

Aditya from Delhi Public School has always been inspired by Neil Armstrong and walking on the moon was like a “dream come true” for him. “I was always inspired by Neil Armstrong and it was a dream come true for me,” he said.

The camp also served as a platform for the three of them to interact with students from other countries and explore their common love for science. “Meeting students from around the world who share the same passion for rockets, jets, space shuttles, and the moon walk was extremely exciting. We learnt a lot from the experiences of scientists and astronauts. What’s really great is that the programme combines science and engineering with fun and friendship for life,” Pranav said.

The three students were among the total 17 students from across the country who were chosen for the once-in-a-lifetime learning experience at the Honeywell Leadership Challenge Academy (HLCA) at the USSRC in Huntsville in Alabama. The unique leadership programme meant exclusively for the children of Honeywell employees, included activities like rocket designing, building and testing; participation in simulated astronaut training, shuttle missions and a moon walk.

The participants also met scientists, engineers, and former astronauts, who reinforced core leadership capabilities and shared their first-hand experiences. For Aditya, meeting retired American NASA astronaut Robert Lee Gibson, who is said to have symbolically ended the Cold War with Russia after shaking hands with a Russian cosmonaut in space, was one of the most exciting experiences.

“We shook hands with Gibson who ended the Russian-American Cold War after shaking hands with a Russian cosmonaut in space!” Aditya said.

The programme is designed to highlight the importance of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) for students between the ages of 16-18 years. “The act of bringing this global Honeywell community together with space camp allows these students to plan for a future of improving life on our planet and beyond,” Deborah Barnhart, CEO and executive director, USSRC, said.

“They bring the best of their diverse cultures to the space camp, where they use teamwork and technology to prepare for a future they have yet to imagine,” she said.

PTI