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2023SpaceCampAttendees07.05.2023 • Story by: Lira Frye, U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Sofia Sadowski traveled nearly 7,000 miles to spend a week at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center Space Camp. The 9-year-old, whose parents reside at U.S. Army Garrison Kwajalein Atoll, Republic of the Marshall Islands, is one of 20 9- to 11-year-old students who trained like an astronaut, July 2-7, thanks to Space Camp scholarships.

Sofia had a hard time naming her favorite part of the camp.

“I liked building rockets and doing cool simulators,” she said. “I also got to do some experiments like making slime.”

But the best part she said, was the 1/6th gravity chair where campers got to feel what it is like to walk on the moon.

The scholarships, awarded by the Air, Space, and Missile Defense Association and the Air Defense Artillery Association, gave the awardees an opportunity to learn teamwork and leadership skills while applying science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

During a lunch on July 5, the students had a chance to hear from Redstone Arsenal and community leaders as well as ASMDA and ADAA members.

“Each one of you has the potential to be tomorrow’s heroes,” said Dr. Steve Pierce, chief technology officer, U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command. “Each one of you here has the potential to make an impact on this world, and an impact outside of this world, possibly in space. Look at those things where you can make a positive impact.

“Maybe you don’t want to go into space or missile defense; maybe you don’t want to be an engineer; but start thinking about your dream and what you want to be,” he said. “And don’t ever let anyone tell you that your dream can’t be a reality.”

Since 1996, ASMDA has awarded scholarships to children of a parent or guardian, either military or government civilian, assigned to the USASMDC; Program Executive Office Missiles and Space; Joint Functional Component Command for Integrated Missile Defense; Aviation and Missile Command; Combat Capabilities Development Command Aviation and Missile Center; Missile and Space Intelligence Center; NASA Marshall Space Flight Center; Missile Defense Agency; Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office, or the Cross Functional Teams for Assured Position, Navigation and Timing and Air and Missile Defense.

This year’s campers, who are from Alabama, Alaska, Colorado and Kwajalein Atoll, are Kyrsten Adams, Noah Allan, Zayden Azarraga, William Bryant, Ezekiel Cardillo, Calia Cummings, Abigail Flanary, Jonah Johnson, London Johnson, Autumn Lee, Asher Leman, Rylan Miller, Braden Morris, Brailynn Muntean, Sofia Sadowski, Abby Smallwood, Amelia Tucker, Jason Wilson, Adrion Winkler, and Colson Young.

USASMDC and community leaders congratulated the students on receiving the scholarships and encouraged them to reach for their dreams.

“Think about what you could do,” said Richard De Fatta, USASMDC deputy to the commander. “You could go into a military service to become an astronaut, a mission specialist. There are a lot of paths you could take to get into a space-related field.”

During the week, campers stayed busy with a rocket construction and launch, water activities, a simulated lunar mission, riding the 1/6th gravity chair and the Multi-Axis Trainer, and visiting the USSRC Planetarium.

“I enjoyed the simulators, especially the g-force simulator,” said Noah Allen, 9, who hails from Huntsville.

“It’s a little scary at first,” he said. “But you’ve got to make friends so you can feel like you’re not alone. It’s been fun, and I’d want to come back again.”

Sofia agreed. “It’s fun and you have to pay attention a lot,” she said. “You have to be positive and just have fun.”

The students were selected for the scholarship based on an essay, school grades, interest in science and space, and financial need. The scholarship covers one week at Space Camp, travel, a flight suit, clothing package, a calling card and spending money.