This is a slideshow of Daniel's trip to Airforce Space Command Familarization Course. It is about 14 minutes long. Daniel has some comments about his trip:
The Road to the Stars Starts from the Ground
By Cadet Second Lieutenant Daniel Cook
COCOA BEACH, Fla. -- How would you like to meet four astronauts, walk under the space shuttle Endeavour, tour the facilities at Cape Canaveral, and meet the men and women who help our space program run – all in one week? This summer, I did all that and more at a Civil Air Patrol National Cadet Special Activity known as the Air Force Space Command Familiarization Course.
I had dreamed of going to this extraordinary course for two years. Once there, reality exceeded all my expectations. Twenty-seven of us, all Civil Air Patrol Cadets from across the United States of America, spent a jam-packed week learning about our country’s space program from two different though complementary points of view: those of the United States Air Force and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. While it might seem that the Space Program might be routine, the more we learned about it, the less routine it became.
We were taught about some of the many factors that affect each launch – from weather to hardware problems, each mission has its own unique challenges. Walking underneath the space shuttle Endeavour, we began to realize just how complex the space shuttle really is, as we looked up at hundreds of heat-resistant tiles, each different from the others. We also had the chance to meet the men and women who make each mission possible, from the people who repair the parachutes used on the solid rocket boosters to the Air Force personnel who make sure the sea and sky are clear. During the course we had the honor of meeting four different shuttle astronauts, including John Blaha who was just recently inducted into the United States Astronaut Hall of Fame.
This was an intense and exciting course, challenging and dynamic, and I could talk for a very long time about all I learned. However, the most important lesson I took away from here was not about the space program, nor did it come from an astronaut but from our guest speaker, United States Air Force Senior Master Sergeant Rene Rubiella. “The decisions you make now will affect you for the rest of your lives,” he said.
While interacting with other cadets I remembered what my mother told me. “Keep silent and listen. Don’t talk to much.” she said. I learned a lot by doing just that. The less you say the more you listen th more you can learn, and when you do speak people are more apt to listen. The senior NCOs from Patrick Air Force Base reminded me that as an officer I should listen to my NCOs they usually have a better idea than you do. This course taught me more than just what the space program is all about, it taught me lessons that will help me through all of my life.
Cadet Cook is the cadet executive officer of the Gainesville Composite Squadron, Florida Wing, Civil Air Patrol. He is 15 years old and is still not sure what career he would like to pursue, though he believes it will have something to do with aerospace, but most importantly wants to raise a family of his own one day.