Purdue Space Day inspires future astronauts

An out of this world event inspires more than 600 minds of children at Purdue University.
An out of this world event inspires more than 600 minds of children at Purdue University.

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) — A camp from out of this world inspired the young minds of hundreds Saturday. It is known as Space Day, and it has been around for the past 21 years.

Every year since 1996, Purdue students and volunteers host a free one-day camp to students in grades three through eight.

“It’s pretty fun, and it would be fun to come back next year, hopefully,” camp participant Isaac King said.

The event gave students, like Josh Smith, a chance to participate in space, science and engineering activities.

“We build, like, these rockets, and we soar them up into the air and see how high they go,” Smith said. “I’ve basically never seen an astronaut in real life before.”

Smith’s favorite part was hearing from former NASA astronaut Jerry Ross.

The day kicked off with a lecture from Ross, who is one of the most launched astronauts in history.

“I try to encourage young people to think about what they wanna do with their lives, and to set goals for themselves, and study hard, and work hard, and to not give up too easily in the pursuit of those goals,” Ross said.

Ross grew up in Indiana and received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mechanical engineering from Purdue in 1970 and 1972. He was hired as an astronaut in 1980.

“My first space shuttle mission was in 1985, and then I flew in 1988, 1991, 1993, 1995, 1998. In 2002 was my last mission,” he said. “I hope that we have some more astronauts of the future here today that will pick up the mantle and carry on from where I left off.”