News Feature

Castine
Originally published in Castine Patriot, July 18, 2019
Castine girl takes on astronaut role
Participates in week-long space camp

Zero gravity

Nora Spratt was able to experience anti-gravity during her time at the Space Academy at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center last month.

Photo courtesy of Jack Spratt

by Monique Labbe

In first grade, Nora Spratt decided she wanted to be an astronaut. She spent the next seven years devouring anything related to the science field, and this year, she made a dream to become that astronaut a reality, on her own planet, at space camp.

Spratt, a recent graduate of the Adams School eighth grade, was one of 60 applicants to receive a scholarship to attend the Space Academy at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Ala. The scholarship process alone was rigorous, said Spratt, with “hundreds upon hundreds” applying for the funds.

“I applied for an academic achievement scholarship, requiring recommendation letters, essays, report cards, and a science experiment,” said Spratt, who has spent the last two years working on her application. “I was exhilarated when I found out I was accepted.”

Each day of camp was packed with classroom work, training sequences and simulated missions, where Spratt and her young colleagues learned about planetary magnetism, space suits, heat shields, commercial space and other space-related topics. The missions included taking a space walk, traveling through space, and more. Spratt said her favorite mission was one where she and her crew had to do a shift change on the Moon from the International Space Station.

“I did that and [Extravehicular Activity] in the 1/6th [gravity] chair to apply a solar panel,” she said. “Both were really fun and lifelike. If you forgot to turn on the engines, then a lot of problems arose. If you didn’t land the shuttle, you crashed and all died. Most of us wore our flight suits which made it feel more serious, and super cool. There was no dillly dallying or goofing off during the mission.”

Spratt graduated from the Space Academy with 300 other students at the end of the program, which also included graduates from the Advanced Space Academy. The latter program is one Spratt said she plans to participate in in the next couple of years if she can.

Spratt said that participating in the camp this year not only taught her more about space and being an astronaut, but it also inspired her to learn more about the topics discussed during her trainings. The people she was around for that week were also inspiring, she said, and she made several friends over the course of those days.

“What I especially loved about the camp is that I was around like minded people that were my age for the first time,” she said.

While the training of camp was sometimes rigorous, Spratt said it is nothing compared to what the professional men and women do every day as astronauts around the world.

In the cockpit

Nora Spratt gets to experience what it would be like to sit in the cockpit of a space craft during a simulated mission at the Space Academy at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center.

Photo courtesy of Jack Spratt
Zero gravity

Nora Spratt was able to experience anti-gravity during her time at the Space Academy at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center last month.

Photo courtesy of Jack Spratt
A future astronaut

Nora Spratt’s goal is to one day become an astronaut for NASA.

Photo courtesy of Jack Spratt