Wednesday, August 17, 2022 Aug 17, 2022
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By A.E. |

When Dallas restaurateur Phillip Cobb found out that The Alabama Space & Rocket Center at Tranquility Base in
Hunts-ville was offering a three-day Space Camp for adults, he couldn’t wait to buy his space flight suit. With images
of the Space Shuttle and flying around in a gravity-free environment, he mailed in his $300 tuition and flew to the
camp in May. But it wasn’t anything like he expected.

“It just wasn’t professional,” he laments. “The kids at the kids’ camp got to do more things than we did.” Cobb says
he’s not trying to bea bad sport about the program, which has been favorably written about in several major
publications. He’s just telling it like it is: “On a scale of one to 10, it was a four.”

He says he liked testing his endurance on the multi-axis trainer, a machine that pitches and rolls and tries to make
you lose your lunch. The space lecture given by a former assistant to the late scientist Wernher von Braun (who
inspired the idea for the camp) was good, but rather basic. And the simulated Space Shuttle mission lacked the
necessary realism, reminding Cobb of a Japanese monster movie out of sync with the sound track. When Cobb role-played
the shuttle’s communications officer at Mission Control, he found himself congratulating the rest of the shuttle crew
on a fine landing 20 seconds before the crew actually landed. His video simulator was ahead of schedule. “And the
knobs on the control panel don’t do anything,” he says.

As disappointed as Cobb was with the Space Camp, it wasn’t a total waste of time. “I saw a business opportunity for
somebody in Texas,” he says. “Where NASA is now is in Houston. That’s where it’s all happening. What’s going on at
Huntsville is basically administrative. Somebody from the private sector could come up with a real space
simulator in Texas. I would have paid a lot more for a good mental and physical testing. If I wasn’t so busy, I’d
start a camp myself. I still might.”

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