At our Learning Center, students fly simulated space missions.
The Learning Centers offer students the next best thing to actual space flight with
a Mission Control room designed after NASA Johnson Space Center and an orbiting spacecraft.
When students arrive at a Challenger Learning Center, they are greeted by Flight Commanders that provide an
orientation briefing in which the students are given an overview of the mission.
The Crew Manifest
Prior to the mission, the teacher creates the crew manifest,
since the teacher is familiar with students' personalities and abilities.
Each student is assigned a partner on one of eight teams.
Using the Simulator's E-mail System
Students will communicate with their partners by sending messages using the simulator's e-mail system.
Instructions for SENDING and RECEIVING E-mail Messages
Communication Team (COM)
"Mission Control, this is the space station. Do you copy? Over?" COM Officers facilitate verbal communication between the two locations. They are skilled in reading and oral communications, and have the ability to work in high stress situations while remaining focused on specific tasks.
The Communication team is responsible for all verbal messages between the Spacecraft and Mission Control. Communication through COM includes short messages, emergency messages, and messages without numerical data. COM is also responsible for prioritizing messages so that the most vital messages are sent first and special messages are sent when instructed by the Mission Commander or Flight Director. The team aboard the Spacecraft controls the view seen on the SS CAM 1 or SS CAM 2 monitors. These cameras allow Mission Control to view all areas of the Spacecraft.
Sample of the Communication Team Task Cards in Mission Control
Sample of the Communication Team Task Cards in Spacecraft
Data Team (DATA)
DATA Officers transfer all electronic messages between Mission Control and the space station, and access the research video library on demand.
DATA Officers are transferring (and receiving!) messages from six other teams. DATA Officers rely on strong reading and oral communications and good organization skills.
The Data team is responsible for all communication between the Spacecraft and Mission Control. Long messages, messages with pictures, and messages
with numerical data are forwarded by DATA to specific teams. Emergency messages and messages without numbers are printed and giving to the
Communication Team (COM) to announce. DATA is also responsible for prioritizing messages so that the most vital messages are sent first.
All messages are received and stored in the computer database for future reference. The Mission Control DATA team can access an image library and send these images to the Spacecraft.
Sample of the Data Team Task Cards in Mission Control
Sample of the Data Team Task Cards in Spacecraft
Navigation Team (NAV)
Are we there yet? Navigation Officers can easily answer this one because they're responsible for navigating the spacecraft on its journey.
They also coordinate launches and/or landings as the scenario requires. Navigation Officers have strong mathematics and reading skills,
basic knowledge of coordinate geometry, basic knowledge of angle measurements, and an interest in astronomy.
Sample of the Navigation Task Team Cards in Mission Control
Sample of the Navigation Task Data Log in Mission Control
Sample of the Navigation Task Team Cards in Spacecraft
Probe Team (PROBE)
As a member of the Probe Team, students assemble, deploy, and monitor one or more space probes launched during a mission.
Depending on the mission scenario, the Probe Team must also coordinate with the Navigation Team for launching and landing the probe.
The position requires strong mechanical skills, proficiency in mathematics and reading, analytical problem solving, and deduction skills.
Sample of the Probe Team Analyzing Task Cards in Mission Control
Sample of the Probe Team Analyzing Data Log in Mission Control
Sample of the Probe Team Assembling Task Cards in Mission Control
Sample of the Probe Team Task Cards in Spacecraft
Medical Team (MED)
How does living in space affect the human body? Medical Officers aboard the Spacecraft are tasked with testing all
spacecraft astronauts for auditory and visual response time, respiration rate, skin temperature, and heart rate.
Medical Officers in Mission Control view the results of tests as they are being conducted and entered into the computer.
The Medical team in Mission Control uses a computer to research topics regarding the tests being performed on the Spacecraft.
Skills required for this position include a strong interest in biology and proficiency in mathematics.
Sample of the Medical Team Task Cards in Mission Control
Sample of the Medical Team Data Log in Mission Control
Sample of the Medical Team Task Cards in Spacecraft
Remote Team (REM)
As members of the Remote Team, students work in a glovebox environment to analyze rock, mineral, and soil, insect and plant samples.
The mission scenario determines the types of samples being analyzed. Depending upon the mission, the REM Team also operates a robotic arm to collect rock or plant samples for analysis.
Sample of the Remote Team Task Cards in Mission Control
Sample of the Remote Team Data Log in Mission Control
Sample of the Remote Team Task Cards in Spacecraft
Life Support Team (LS)
Life Support Team in the Spacecraft monitors temperature, air pressure, humidity levels, LiOH filter, oxygen systems, solar panels, and water sources.
Water sources are tested for pH levels and for the total amount of dissolved solids (TDS). The Life Support team in Mission Control records and analyzes
this data to determine if the results are within acceptable levels. The Life Support team in Mission Control uses a computer to research topics regarding
the systems being monitored on the Spacecraft. The position requires strong problem solving skills and interest in environmental science and chemistry.
Sample of the Life Support Team Task Cards in Mission Control
Sample of the Life Support Team Data Log in Mission Control
Sample of the Life Support Team Task Cards in Spacecraft
Isolation Teams (ISO)
Isolation Team members use robotic arms to conduct research related to hazardous materials (ISO 1), meteoroids (ISO 2), and radioactivity (ISO 3) at three isolated chambers aboard the Spacecraft. The ISO teams in Mission Control have video monitors to view experiments within the isolation chambers.
They also have a computer to use for researching topics related to those experiments.
Sample of the Isolation 1 Team Task Cards in Mission Control
Sample of the Isolation 1 Team Data Log in Mission Control
Sample of the Isolation 1 Team Task Cards in Spacecraft
Sample of the Isolation 2 Team Task Cards in Mission Control
Sample of the Isolation 2 Team Data Log in Mission Control
Sample of the Isolation 2 Team Task Cards in Spacecraft
Sample of the Isolation 3 Team Task Cards in Mission Control
Sample of the Isolation 3 Team Data Log in Mission Control
Sample of the Isolation 3 Team Task Cards in Spacecraft
The group is divided into two, with half of the students assigned to Mission Control while the others are transported to the space station. At the mission's midpoint, the partners exchange places so every student can experience both learning environments.
During the mission, students must accomplish specific tasks in order for the mission to be a success. Astronauts on board the space station build space probes, monitor life support functions, conduct experiments on items taken from the surfaces of Mars or the Moon, and plot navigation courses for the spacecraft.
Engineers at Mission Control support these endeavors by answering the astronauts' questions and providing necessary research. For the Navigation and Probe Teams, astronauts rely completely on the engineers' instructions and data necessary for them to complete their tasks.
When the mission is at full throttle, there is a flurry of messages between Mission Control and the space station heard over loud speakers. Electronic messages are sent back and forth. At any moment, emergency alarms and flashing lights may signal hazardous conditions for the astronauts that need to be fixed.
Meanwhile, everyone must continue working
to ensure that the mission's goal is accomplished.
The simulation provides students with numerous opportunities to apply the skills they've learned in the classroom. Even when they aren't necessarily aware that they're doing so, students are using critical thinking skills; teamwork skills; principles of science and mathematics; as well as reading and communications skills to complete their mission.