STARBASE Academy explores space

  • Published
  • By Mark Wyatt
  • 66th Air Base Group Public Affairs

HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. – Retired Air Force Col. and current NASA astronaut Eric Boe spoke via Skype to more than 20 children about space exploration and being an astronaut during a space-themed summer camp at the STARBASE Academy here Aug. 22.

“If you’re interested in being an astronaut, study hard and work hard,” said Boe, who was a pilot for STS-126 Endeavour and STS-133 Discovery.

According to the NASA website, Boe is currently training for the Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft, the first crewed flight for that vehicle.
During his one-hour Skype session, the astronaut spoke about NASA’s goal to get humans back on the moon by 2024.

“We haven’t had someone on the moon since 1972,” he said to the students. “The reason we want to go back to the moon is in preparation to go on into the solar system.”

Boe was the pilot of the 35th Space Shuttle mission to the International Space Station and the pilot of the final flight of Discovery.

He highlighted the importance of teamwork during his two spaceflights.

“Being an astronaut is a part to play in a big team,” he said. “Teamwork is a really important.”

The space-themed camp coincided with the 50th anniversary of man landing on the moon in 1969.

“We want the kids to leave this experience inspired, but also with a certain amount of knowledge about space,” said Dr. Peter Holden, director of the STARBASE Academy at Hanscom.

Some of the other guest speakers had connections to the Apollo program in the 1960s and 1970s.

“What people are doing today is very innovative and creative, but they do stand on the shoulders of those who came before them,” Holden said. “I think it’s important for young people to know, not only what happened then, but what a legacy it is.”

The campers clearly came away impressed.

“It was fun to learn about space by Skyping with the astronaut,” said Sydney Sheehan, a sixth grader at the Hanscom Middle School.

Willow Hoffer, who is home-schooled, enjoyed learning about the science of space.

“It was fun to program robots to see how they would hit a rover and avoid obstacles,” she said.

According to Holden, all of the kids were eager to learn more about space exploration.

“The kids have been doing some very impressive work through the week,” he said. “They have designed a place to live on Mars and a creature that has to live in conditions on another planet.”

STARBASE is a Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Enrichment Academy founded by the Department of Defense. The Hanscom-based academy opened in November 2012.

Holden highlighted the academy’s fortune of being at Hanscom.

“We are privileged to have such great intellectual resources on the base who come and engage with the children,” said Holden.

To learn more about the Hanscom-based STARBASE Academy, call 781-862-4015 or 781-862-4016 or visit