While on vacation in Florida with my family I attended the NASA Astronaut Training Experience with my dad and was able to do two things that I have wanted to do since watching the movie Space Camp in 1986, ride the multi-axis trainer and fly a full size space shuttle simulator.

The multi-axis trainer simulates the disorientation astronauts would experience in a tumble spin during reentry into the earth’s atmosphere. Astronauts in the early Mercury program flew in a similar device, for as long as 15 minutes at a time. While I wasn’t exactly keeping track of time I was in the MAT for somewhere between one and two minutes. You might wonder if I would like to ride the MAT again and I have to say the experience was awesome and I’d love to do it all over again.

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After riding the multi-axis trainer it was time for our class to select the crew positions for our mission to the International Space Station (ISS) in the shuttle simulator. I was fortunate enough to be selected as the shuttle commander and after our visit to the ISS was complete it was time to head home for runway 33 at Kennedy Space Center. I’m not sure if the few hundred landings in Cessna’s helped although I was able to bring the Space Shuttle Inspiration, the name of the full-scale simulator, back to earth on the centerline.

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Another awesome aspect of the astronaut training experience was meeting and having a conversation with astronaut Sam Durrance, who flew on Columbia STS-35 and Endeavor STS-67.

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I’d highly recommend checking out the NASA Astronaut Training Experience on your next visit to Florida.