Jemison student earns space camp experience
Have you ever wanted to be an astronaut — to be the first to explore unchartered territory in outer space and catch floating water droplets in your mouth?
Many have shared this dream, but few have achieved it.
Sixth grader Logan Forbach of Jemison Intermediate School hopes to be among the few, and after an opportunity to experience astronaut training took one giant leap to his door — or rather arrived in an inbox — the gravity is lifting from his dream.
Logan is going to space camp.
A scholarship from Space Academy for Leading Students in Alabama (SALSA) is funding Logan’s week of camp at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, which otherwise costs close to $1,000 per student.
“I’ve always wanted to be an astronaut,” Logan said.
Being an astronaut does have its perks.
“I want to fly on a spaceship,” Logan said, adding that he would like to go to “places that we haven’t been. I want to go to Mars.”
Logan explained that in recent years his interest had taken off after watching astronaut videos in class.
“They eat, like, freeze-dried ice cream and a bunch of different food,” Logan said. “And they said they don’t have to worry about spilling water — they can just catch it in their mouths. I thought that was cool.”
Space Academy aims to provide an authentic earth experience of the adventures that await explorers just outside the earth’s atmosphere.
Logan gets to sample a taste of the wonders of space life for himself.
“He’s going to get to go through all of the different simulators and see what it’s like in space,” his mother, KayLa Forbach, said.
“There’s a simulator that would show you how it would feel on the moon,” Logan said.
The 1/6th Gravity Chair, which astronauts use for moon walk training, is one of Logan’s greatest anticipations.
Other activities include a Multi-Axis Trainer, a Thermal Design Challenge and Underwater Astronaut Trainer exercises, where campers learn valuable communication skills while submerged in a pool.
“Astronauts train in the water too,” Logan’s father, Scott Forbach, explained. “You get in a suit, and you go under the water so you’re weightless.”
Logan even gets his own flight suit.
“— and patches,” Logan added. “And then I get to eat lunch with an astronaut.”
Astronaut Robert Springer has been on two NASA Space Shuttle missions. Logan is excited to meet him.
The Application Process
Logan’s parents said that applying for a SALSA scholarship is a competitive process.
“Only a boy and a girl get chosen from each district, and we had to send Logan’s report card,” KayLa Forbach said.
Logan was one among many applicants from across the world — including Korea and Canada, he said.
“The program’s based on his grades, and he’s never made a C in his life,” Scott Forbach said. “It’s always been A’s or B’s. He’s always had good grades.”
Logan applied for the program in October, and after six months without notification from the program, it was assumed he had missed his chance.
“And then I got the email,” his mother said.
The letter arrived in early April.
“Congratulations!” it read. “You have been nominated by your state legislator to attend Space Academy at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center…”
“I was really excited,” Logan smiled.
“He ran downstairs to try to see what all he had to pack,” Scott Forbach recalled.
Logan learned what his camp activities would entail and showed his parents “what this was and what that was,” according to his dad.
He also learned several camp rules.
Logan will have to set distractions aside for camp.
“They can’t be on their cell phones and playing games and stuff,” KayLa Forbach said. “It’s got to be like they’re really training to go to space.”
The camp is set for the week of May 27, and it will conclude with a graduation ceremony on June 1.
Logan said he is looking forward to making new friends at the camp — particularly with students from other countries. He hopes to keep in touch with them afterward through social media.
For now, the countdown continues toward an experience of a lifetime.
Space camp is one small step toward a dream and one giant leap toward an unforgettable adventure.
And Logan is well on his way.