Thanks to the efforts of 18-year NASA veteran Homer Hickam, now an author whose famous memoir “Rocket Boys,” later adapted into the film “October Sky,” Kiera Wilmot and her twin sister are now heading to space camp!
The explosion struck a chord with 18-year NASA veteran Homer Hickam, a former lead astronaut training manager for Spacelab, and later for the International Space Station.
In the late 1950s, Hickam had a brush with law enforcement for allegedly starting a forest fire. State police came to his high school and led him and his friends away in handcuffs, but his high school physics professor and school principal came to the rescue, clearing him of wrongdoing.
Back then, schools did not have zero tolerance rules. Kids could make their mistakes without the threat of a criminal record, or serving time in jail.
“I couldn’t let this go without doing something,” Hickam said. “I’m not a lawyer, but I could give her something that would encourage her. I’ve worked closely with the U.S. Space Academy, and so I purchased a scholarship for her.”Learning of her twin sister, Hickam raised enough money so Kiera and Kayla could attend space camp together. Hickam runs several scholarships for kids with potential, and hopes to create an ongoing Space Academy scholarship. The twins will attend in July.
The week-long program is a total immersion in science, technology and math. Students also receive hands on space training and learn about the mental, emotional and physical demands astronauts, engineers and technologists face, according to its website. In addition to the hands on experience, students receive one hour of freshman level general credit science after completion.
“I’m really excited about going,” Kiera said. “Especially the zero gravity tank, I’ve always wanted to do that.”
“You’re not just sitting in a classroom hearing about it, you’re on the floor, in spacecraft simulators, experiencing zero gravity,” Hickam said. “They run through real space missions, like voyages to the moon or Mars, where they are given problems they must solve.”