University of Central Florida Physics Associate Professor Joshua Colwell and one of his graduate students is headed for astronaut boot camp.
Colwell, a scientist who specializes in the early formation of the solar system and graduate student Akbar Whizin, of Santa Cruz, Calif., will be training this week at the National AeroSpace Training and Astronaut Research Center in Southampton, Pa.
About 13 scientists from well-known universities including Massachusetts Institute of Technology are expected to attend the two-day course, which includes classroom instruction, altitude chamber training and centrifuge training to ready participants for the gravitational stresses of launch and re-entry.
It is the first training course for scientists who want to get shot into space and perform experiments. The course was developed by the research center and is organized by Alan Stern and Dan Durda of the Southwest Research Institute (SRI). Stern is the former head of all science missions at NASA headquarters.
Scientists from SRI, Boston University, the Denver Museum of National Sciences, the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, MIT, and the University Space Research Association will be joining UCF’s Colwell and Whizin for the course.
Late last year Colwell was selected to fly an experiment aboard a new spaceship being developed by Blue Origin, a private space company set up by Amazon.com found Jeff Bezos. The company is among several seeking commercial flight opportunities as NASA prepares to retire the space shuttle and develops its replacement.