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Mission Details



Mission Simulator Crew Manifest

Navigating into the correct position for probe launches requires concentration and teamwork to collect vital scientific information and complete the mission. Additionally, other members of the crew are tasked with maintaining the health and safety of their fellow crewmates. Small bodies in the solar system are also highly unpredictable objects and have been known to surprise scientists from time to time, so crew members will also need to be on their toes and ready to make quick decisions.

To download a crew manifest, click on the mission you or your group will be participating in or call 850.645.7777
Junior Naut
Rendevous with a Comet
Mission to MARS
Return to the Moon
Earth Odyssey

The Crew Manifest

Each participant is assigned a partner on one of eight teams:

Communications Team (COM)

"Mission Control, this is the space station. Do you copy? Over?" COM Officers facilitate verbal communication between the two locations. They are skilled in reading and oral communications, and have the ability to work in high stress situations while remaining focused on specific tasks.


Navigation Team (NAV)

Are we there yet? Navigation Officers can easily answer this one because they're responsible for navigating the spacecraft on its journey. They also coordinate launches and/or landings as the scenario requires. Navigation Officers have strong mathematics and reading skills, basic knowledge of coordinate geometry, basic knowledge of angle measurements, and an interest in astronomy.


Probe Team (PROBE)

As a member of the Probe Team, students assemble, deploy, and monitor one or more space probes launched during a mission. The position requires strong mechanical skills, proficiency in mathematics and reading, analytical problem solving, and deduction skills.


Medical Team (MED)

How does living in space affect the human body? Medical Officers are tasked with monitoring all spacecraft astronauts for auditory and visual response time, respiration rate, skin temperature, and heart rate. Skills required for this position include a strong interest in biology and proficiency in mathematics.


Remote Team (REM)

As members of the Remote Team, students work in a glovebox environment to analyze rock, mineral, and soil samples. Depending upon the mission, the REM Team also operates a robotic arm to collect rock samples for analysis.


Life Support Team (LS)

Life Support Team members take thermometer, barometer, and hygrometer readings. They also perform pH tests and TDS tests on the spacecraft water supply. The position requires strong problem solving skills and interest in environmental science and chemistry.


Isolation Team (ISO)

Isolation Team members use robotic arms to conduct research related to radioactivity, meteoroids, and hazardous materials.

Space Weather Team (SW)

As a member of the Space Weather Team, the applicant will be responsible for monitoring solar activity, providing a space weather report, and detecting any large radiation surge from the sun. The position requires proficiency in math, ability to work in high stress situation, and strong interest in solar activity.


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Mission Simulation Timeline



When participants arrive at the Challenger Learning Center, a short pre-briefing is held during which they are first charged with their critical mission. The group is then divided into two sections, with one half taking their stations in Mission Control and the other half "beaming up" to the Space Lab. Each participant is given an individual Space Lab and Mission Control assignment to one of the eight teams that comprise the crew: Medical, Life Support, Isolation, Remote, Probe, Navigation, Communication and Data. Halfway through the mission, the participants exchange places so that everyone has an opportunity to experience both Mission Control and the Space Lab.

During the mission, participants must accomplish specific tasks in order for the mission to be a success. Astronauts on board the space station build space probes, monitor life support functions, conduct experiments on items taken from the surfaces of Mars or the Moon, and plot navigation courses for the spacecraft.

Engineers at Mission Control support these endeavors by answering the astronauts' questions and providing necessary research. For the Navigation and Probe Teams, astronauts rely completely on the engineers' instructions and data necessary for them to complete their tasks.

When the mission is at full throttle, there is a flurry of messages between Mission Control and the space station heard over loud speakers. Electronic messages are sent back and forth. At any moment, emergency alarms and flashing lights may signal hazardous conditions for the astronauts that need to be fixed. Meanwhile, everyone must continue working toward to ensure that the mission's goal is accomplished.

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Mission Simulator Facilities


Space Mission Simulator: Mission Control

The Mission Control component of the Space Mission Simulator is located on the first floor of the Challenger Learning Center and is designed to look and feel like Mission Control at Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. The “engineers” working in Mission Control must complete their tasks, share information with their “astronaut” classmates in Space Station and direct the “astronauts” to their next task. Most importantly, the “engineers” in Mission Control must maintain constant contact with the “astronauts” aboard Space Station.


Space Mission Simulator: Space Station Laboratory

The Space Station component of the Space Mission Simulator is located on the second floor of the Challenger Learning Center and is modeled after the laboratory on the International Space Station. The “astronauts” working in the laboratory node of the Space Station must complete their tasks, share information with their “engineer” classmates in Mission Control and consult with each other to decide on how best to accomplish the goal of the mission. These overall goals vary, depending on which type of mission the class is participating in.

For Rendezvous with a Comet, students are required to compute an accurate trajectory to send their probe through the tail of a comet. Completing assembly of their scientific probe requires constant headset communication and video links with Mission Control. The glove box, with its hands-on experiments, is a highlight of every mission, and using robotics to manipulate science experiments is just one of many such activities that take place during a mission.

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