Dubai's mass rocket launch thrills families
Hundreds of children and their parents looked on as homemade devices were blasted off from Dubai Parks and Resorts
Space camp taught Abrianna Grace that timing is everything.
Her skills were put to the test on Saturday morning when she gathered with 164 other children for a mass rocket launch at Dubai Parks & Resorts, the culmination of a five day space camp for children ages nine to 18.
Abrianna waited and watched as other rockets went askew in the wind.
When the wind finally died down, she lit the fuse under her rocket Sunset and watched it soar more than 150 metres into the air, setting a record for the day.
“I felt really proud and I was really surprised,” she said of her rocket’s flight. “Honestly, I think when I built my rocket I just went slowly and took my time instead of rushing it."
Abrianna is a recent graduate of Space and Rocketry Academy UAE, a space camp organised by Compass International and supported by the UAE Space Agency. There, she spent four days building her rocket. She also learnt that launching a rocket when the planets are perfectly aligned can save a months of travel to Mars. It was a lesson in patience.
In addition to building their rockets, children learnt how Emirati astronauts are preparing for space, what it’s like to live at the International Space Station and how robots can navigating challenging terrain on the Red Planet.
“We’re happy to offer these programmes to really inspire what is being called the Mars generation,” said Michael Flachbart, a global education director at Compass International who has 30 years experience in space education programmes for youth.
“This generation has the opportunity to be the first to set foot on Mars. People who are under 18 now are really going to be the perfect age to have a big impact there and it’s not just the people who go to space, it’s the thousands on the ground. It really is a large undertaking.”
In addition to space curriculum, the camp addresses gaps in 21st century skills. Technology has changed since space camps began last century and children now have a world of information at their fingertips but still need to develop communication skills by working in small groups.
“These types of programmes are actually needed in some ways more than ever today because students are not sitting side-by-side doing problem solving,” said Mr Flachbart. “Some of the skills gaps in 21st century learning are collaboration and communication.”
Graduates of similar space programmes include George Whitesides, the chief executive of Virgin Galactic, and Christina Koch, an American astronaut who will set a record for the longest single spaceflight by a woman when she completes 328 days in orbit next year. She will be on board the International Space Station when the first Emirati astronaut arrives in September.
Compass International has had more than 500 children space camps since they launched last year.
Organisers are ready to establish permanent space camp headquarters in Dubai, said Lissy Donald, company's the managing director and owner.
“Our mission is to bring in a permanent camp here and empower youth year round,” said Ms Donald.
Updated: May 4, 2019 06:31 PM