formerly "The View From Up Here"

Formerly titled "The View From Up Here" this column began in the Liberty Gazette June 26, 2007.

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November 17, 2009 Guest Columnist, Levi Lyons' "Voyage to the Moon"

The Liberty Gazette
November 17, 2009

The View From Up Here
By Mike Ely and Linda Street Ely

This week we offer a view from further up than we’ve ever been. Guest columnist, Levi Lyons, shares his exciting “voyage to the moon” and encourages others to experience the thrills of space and aviation.

Levi: My name is Levi Lyons and I am 13 years old. I live in Danville, Indiana, just 30 minutes from the Challenger Learning Center in Brownsburg, Indiana. Because of my love for science I wanted to visit the Challenger Learning Center for the “Mission to the Moon.”

The Challenger Learning Center is a living memorial for Christa McAuliffe, a teacher from Boston, Massachusetts, whose voyage into space was ended sooner than expected. Many simulators have been dedicated in honor of those who died on that voyage (in the U.S., Canada and the UK). The first learning center was opened in Houston in 1988. The center in Brownsburg was opened in 1994.

When I arrived at the center I had to choose one of the following jobs: Communications, Probe, Remote, Isolation, Medical, Data, Navigation, or Life Support. Each job deals with different portions of the spacecraft. I chose Isolation for my job.

Isolation is split into three divisions: ISO 1, dealing with transfer of harmful, radioactive chemicals; ISO 2, monitoring damage received by solar panels on the spacecraft; and ISO 3, regulating oxygen throughout the spacecraft. Being in ISO 2 I had to use a robotic arm to check the damage on the solar panels. It was very difficult to use the robotic arm, because it shut down every ten minutes or so. I did like it very much, however, because it was like a video game (I always told my mom that video games are beneficial). I had to record the hits taken by the solar panels as well.

In addition to choosing our jobs, our group was split into two teams: Mission Control and Spacecraft, which communicate with each other throughout the mission. After my experience in ISO 2 on board the spacecraft, it was time to switch over to mission control, where I had a new job; Communications.

In Communications I had to relay messages from all divisions of both teams (OVERWHELMING!). It was difficult, but it was very fun to try to interpret the other students’ very messy hand writing.

At the end of our mission we finally saw the probe land on the highlands of the moon. The simulation was so realistic that for a minute I thought I was in a real spacecraft. Before entering we had to walk down a long, illuminated hallway that any Star Trek fan would have loved, and into the airlock, from which we entered the main room of the ship. Mission Control was convincing as well, for it had many computers throughout the room, and many huge monitors on the front wall. I recommend this experience to anyone with a love for astronomy.

Mike: This type of opportunity is available to students in the Houston area as well, at the Houston Museum of Natural Science, “A field trip with no boundaries.” A special thanks to our nephew, Levi Lyons, for an outstanding write-up!

Mike and Linda can be reached at

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