HUNTSVILLE, Ala- On the week of June 30-July 4, sixteen children attended Space Camp on scholarships provided by the Air, Space, and Missile Defense Association (ASMDA) to further expand their knowledge of the importance of science in space. The children, whose families are located at various Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command (SMDC/ARSTRAT) locations around the world, entered the ASMDA scholarship competition for the chance to attend Space Camp for free.

The ASMDA Space Camp Scholarship committee reviewed applications and selected winners based on numerous factors, including a handwritten essay and academic performance. The scholarships are open to any child age 9-11 whose parent or parents are currently assigned to SMDC/ARSTRAT, the Missiles and Space Program Executive Office (PEO-MS), United States Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM), Missile Systems Intelligence Center (MSIC), and Missile Defense Agency (MDA).

This year's winners include children from Alabama, Alaska, Colorado, Nebraska, Korea, and Kwajalein Atoll.

The scholarship program allows the children a special chance to attend Space Camp free of charge. Space Camp tuition otherwise costs $900 for 6 days and $1100 for 8 days. This savings makes the trip a once in a lifetime opportunity for many of the scholarships winners.

On Wednesday, July 2, the children had an exceptional day of Space Camp activities and a meet-and-greet with Lt. Gen. Kevin T. Campbell, commanding general of SMDC/ARSTRAT, and Huntsville's mayor, the Honorable Loretta Spencer.

Campbell toured the Davidson Center at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center before spending time with the group of scholarship recipients. Campbell gave brief remarks to the group as well as eating lunch with them.

Campbell imparted advice to the young boys and girls on how they might one day become astronauts themselves and possibly be candidates to walk on the moon. His three main points of advice were to "stay in school, take care of your body, and never give up!"

Many of the campers had different ideas about what they would like to one day accomplish in space. Tarique Burke said he wants to "be the first person to play basketball on the moon." Stephanie Earnest said that after spending time at Space Camp, she "wants to be an astronaut now."

Amon Butler, who currently lives in Korea, said he wrote his essay on why space exploration was important. He thinks people should "see how Mars really is, rather than what is seen on television."

Many of the campers shared their thoughts on what being an astronaut might be like. Shannon Wilborn stated, "Being a payload specialist would be scary, but cool."

After the luncheon, the young campers launched handmade rockets. The rockets, which took the campers around two hours to build, flew high into the air before deploying their built-in parachutes.

Before the launch, Kelly Yuson, one of the campers from Omaha, Neb., stated, "I'm going to enjoy the 'Kaboom'!" Several of the rockets failed to ignite, but luckily, with some help, every child got to see their own creation soar into the clear sky.

Every camper enjoyed their time at Space Camp for varying reasons. Joe Makua said he enjoyed "traveling around Space Camp." Burke enjoyed the many rides and museums. In the end, ASMDA's Space Camp Scholarship contest produced 16 very happy campers who learned more about space exploration and discovered how truly extraordinary space is.