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Elderly participants to attend astronaut camp

October 1, 1998
Webposted at 12:05 PM EDT

Elderhostel participant opens a cargo hatch.   
(CNN) -- When American hero John Glenn returns to space in late October, he won't be just a shuttle payload specialist -- he'll be the oldest person in space. Now 77 years old, Glenn's space mission will be watched perhaps most closely by the now older, more mature nation who'll remember his 1962 space mission. And during Glenn's October mission, space enthusiasts ages 55-87 will gather in the heartland at the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center.

The Cosmoshpere, one of the most comprehensive space museums in existence, has the only hands-on astronaut training program for people age 55 and older. These elderly folks will come to Kansas to train on a centrifuge that pulls up to 5 g's, direct a robotic lunar rover mission, fly a space shuttle simulator and discuss the upcoming Glenn mission.

The program is sponsored by Elderhostel, a nonprofit organization which seeks to indulge its elderly participants in educational adventures all over the globe. Its goal is to give older adults the opportunity to remain mentally active.

The participants will be briefed by Dr. Randall Chambers, an aerospace researcher, and one of the world's authorities in human factors engineering and performance in space enviornments, flight simulation and training. Dr. Chambers will discuss the possible effects space may have on the elderly and his experiences with John Glenn.

The Cosmosphere houses the largest space artifact collection outside the Smithsonian Institution's Air and Space Museum. It has over $250 million worth of space artifacts. More than 300,000 visitors per year visit the museum to explore the Hall of Space Museum exhibits, IMAX films, planetarium shows and other educational programs.

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