Libyan Students Soar at U.S. Space Camp

Posted by Joshua N. Baker
August 20, 2009
Space Shuttle Endeavour Docks at International Space Station

About the Author: Joshua N. Baker serves as Public Affairs Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli, Libya.

In cooperation with the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Oceans, Environment, and Science (OES) and the National Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama, the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli, Libya, recently sent twenty-four students and two Libyan teachers to attend a space camp at the Advanced Space Academy in Huntsville, Alabama. A professional Libyan film crew accompanied the students and teachers to capture the ten-day event.

At the Academy, the students and teachers learned about the mental, emotional, and physical demands astronauts face. During the ten-day camp, which took place from August 1 to 10, the participants visited an Apollo 16 capsule and a Saturn V rocket, and even experienced the sensation of weightlessness. All twenty-six students and teachers completed this unprecedented journey from Tripoli to Huntsville, Alabama, and returned to Libya with an unforgettable out-of-this-world experience! Space camp was clearly a great place for the kids to be this summer given celebrations for the 40th anniversar of Apollo 11’s landing on the moon.

Prior to takeoff, U.S. Ambassador to Libya Gene Cretz congratulated the young astronauts on their selection for the first ever U.S.- Libya Space Camp Exchange Program. Ambassador Cretz emphasized that the young astronauts-in-training represented the future leaders of Libya, and that the United States government was proud to be sending them on the inaugural program. In recognition of the students’ achievements, Libyan Ambassador to the U.S. Ali Aujali, U.S. State Department Science and Technology Cooperation Director Bruce Howard, and Alabama state officials attended the graduation ceremony at the end of the program.

The Libyan students and teachers represent the first group from North Africa to attend U.S. Space Camp, and only the second group from the Arab world since 1982. Bringing young Libyan students to the United States for a special science education program is just a small part of a larger U.S. effort to re-establish its commitment to offering educational opportunities to Libyan students. Space camp was founded in 1982 to promote the study of math, science, and technology and encompasses educational classroom instruction and hands-on activities that teach teamwork, decision-making, and leadership. At the Advanced Space Camp Academy, students from around the world interact around math, science, and technology in a hands-on environment within an astronaut setting.

A film recording the students’ experience at camp will be produced by a Libyan film crew. The film will be shown on Libyan television and in Libyan classrooms and in other countries around the region to spark an interest in science and discovery, demonstrate U.S. goodwill, and inspire future attendance of many more foreign students at space camp. The program is being carried out under the U.S.-Libya Science and Technology Cooperation Agreement, signed in Washington, DC in January 2008.

Comments

Comments

Ron
|
New York, USA
August 21, 2009

Ron in New York writes:

Given the Lockerbie Decision today....it is rather difficult to wrap my head around this one....the imagination just runs wild!

Jim
|
United States
August 21, 2009

Jim in U.S.A. writes:

I thought that this was a great idea, not only will this let students experience real adventure and a chance of a lifetime, but it will teach the students about Math and science to a whole new level.

Ron
|
New York, USA
August 23, 2009

Ron in New York writes:

Keep Diplomatice Distance....

Please do not let Libyans get near U.S. space technologies....that goes for Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, and Iraq.

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
August 25, 2009

Eric in New Mexico writes:

@ Ron in New York,

One way to look at this is as an investment in Libya's next generation of leaders and thinkers. The current generation still seems to have a love interest with terrorism ( as the official celebrations on a terrorist's return home demonstrates).

If you want to change the dynamics, one must present the opportunity for new mindsets to form, and that is what the focus is here, presenting possibilities to impressionable youth, as it were.

And that can only be a good thing, besides which their level of access directly to any "space tech" while hands on, is no secret and these kids arn't exactly spies.

Ron
|
New York, USA
August 26, 2009

Ron in New York writes:

Delusions of Progress....

Libya should get nothing from the U.S. until it changes criminal leadership. USG must stop these delusional and pathetic attempts at positive influence. Libya laughs and continues to attack our nation.

Ron
|
New York, USA
August 27, 2009

Ron in New York writes:

Get Real; Right Now. DoS needs to get real about U.S. onvolvement with destructive regimes. Our resources are finite and our challenges are many (and costly).

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
September 2, 2009

Eric in New Mexico writes:

Whether you like it or not Ron, or even accept the USG positon that Libya is no longer a state sponsor of terror and worthy of re-engagement as a member of the family of nations, and regardless of whether you think folks are being "real" about this, this has become diplomatic reality on the world stage.

This is not to say Gaddaffi will be able to pitch his tent in New Jersey anytime soon. And he may be crashing on the couch at the Libyian embassy in New York since he has recently offended folks to the point where I doubt if he could even book a hotel room in NYC for a week to attend the UNGA.

If memory serves, there is State Dept senior level official's testimony before congresional committe to the effect that the Libyan government has not only halted any and all terrorist activity for the length of time required by law to be removed from the Dept. of State's list of state sponsors of terror, nor is currently engaged again now, testimony also indicates active Libyan efforts to fight terrorism through cooperative efforts with the US and others to hunt down, and dismantle al-quaida cells in North Africa.

So unless you can provide proof "Libya laughs and continues to attack our nation." I'll go with the official record on this one, thanks.

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