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Events - Conferences

(Leipzig 1933, NASA 1962-2012)

Happy Birthday Prof. Dr. Jesco von Puttkamer

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2 p.m., Photo opportunity at the memorial plaque at the birthplace, Salomonstr. 25, Leipzig
3 p.m., Jesco von Puttkamer Schule, Wurzner Str. 4, Leipzig

today: 22.9.2022, Leipzig /Huntsville AL /Alexandria VA, International Space Education Institute e.V.


On Friday, September 22, 2023, the German-American NASA scientist born at Salomonstr. 25 in Leipzig would celebrate his 90th birthday. His father worked as an editor at the Reclam publishing house and emigrated to Switzerland with his young family after the seizure of power in 1933. After the war, 12-year-old Jesco moved to his grandmother in Bavaria and attended school there. He often spoke of how the starlit Bavarian nights were his inspiration for space. He completed his mechanical engineering studies in Aachen in 1962. He financed his studies as an author of sci-fi paperback novels such as "Galaxis Ahoy" and "The Timemanuskript".

After receiving a telegram from America: "Don't go into business, come to Huntsville, we're going to the moon, stop," the young engineer emigrated and worked on the Apollo program. His responsibilities included lunar gravitational anomalies and studies on the reusability of Saturn V stages, from which the space shuttle fleet emerged. His commitment to the Commercial Orbital Transportation Systems (COTS) program comes to impressive heights with SpaceX and other competitors this decade.

Never putting aside his pen as an author, von Puttkamer wrote countless non-fiction and technical books on spaceflight as head of the Strategic Planning Division beginning in the 1970s. He also remained loyal to science fiction, advising Gene Roddenberry and Star Trek as a NASA representative and enlisting African-American Nichelle Nichols (known as Lt. Uhura) as an ambassador for NASA youngsters of the 1970s.

His family's Slavic roots allowed him a conciliatory mentality with the scientists of the then-Soviet Union in the Apollo-Soyuz program, which, thanks in part to von Puttkamer's driving force after perestroika, resulted in various MIR missions with space shuttle flights and ultimately the construction of the International Space Station (ISS). Von Puttkamer held the post of NASA director for the ISS at Washington headquarters from 1998 until his death in 2012. Despite the Russian war of aggression, the ISS remains to this day a multinational peace ambassador for humanity in space and a guarantor of scientific cooperation.

The engineer received various honorary doctorates and professorships for his tireless international work with students, which today already includes several generations of space scientists. In 2005, Prof. Dr. von Puttkamer decided to found a school for the early promotion of young space engineers together with citizens of Leipzig as a support association. At the turn of the millennium, he selected the then young Leipzig couple Yvonne and Ralf Heckel as personal aspirants for this development work. This school has achieved impressive results to date, producing numerous international space scientists, engineers and even aspiring female astronauts. Today, the school bears his name and comprises a small climate and science campus of 2000 m² in the east of Leipzig, not far from the house where he was born.


Von Puttkamer received numerous awards. Above all, 2 outstanding honors should be mentioned here. In 2008 von Puttkamer received the title "Distinguished German American" with congratulations from the 43rd US President and NASA. In the same year the Jet Propulsion Laboratory dedicated a newly discovered asteroid between Mars and Jupiter, the "266752 Vonputtkamer". In 2007, von Puttkamer and his Leipzig school opened the gates for the first time for non-U.S. citizens to participate in NASA junior competitions at the NASA Moonbuggy Race (later NASA Roverchallenge). From this more than 100 teams grew up until today and already 3 world championship titles went to Leipzig.


Puttkamer was a visionary who saw the future as a body in front of him and could explain it in an understandable way. Each of his lectures between Moscow and California was an experience. It is as if this future built by him would bow deeply in these weeks, because:

1. valuable hand drawings and manuscripts in poster format from the Apollo period were recently found in the attic of his former home in Huntsville - they will be shown in Leipzig on his birthday.

2. the ISS shows itself on the evening of his birthday over the native city Leipzig at 20 o'clock on 90 degrees over Leipzig with -4,2 Mag particularly bright and close.

3. asteriod 266752 Vonputtkamer is currently in an unprecedented opposition to Earth and could actually be photographed by the institute's own self-built observatory 7 days ago at a distance of 150 million km (distance Earth-Sun) despite its small size and light faintness of -20 mag. It is currently found to the west of Jupiter between Aries and Pisces (the photos will be presented on Sept 22, 2023 for the birthday).

4. NASA and DLR sealed the return to the Moon last week by joining the Artemis program.

5. the first European young talents who were allowed to accompany an Artemis launch as VIP visitors are from Leipzig. They are 3 students aged between 8-18 years.

6. the COTS program of the NASA experienced a momentum of its own, so that now to the birthday the largest ever built moon rocket stands ready for takeoff on the test launch site in Boca Chica Texas. It is Elon Musk's Starship and a visualization of Puttkamer's vision.

7. the management of the Jesco von Puttkamer School already accompanied the first launch of the Starship on April 20, 2023 and is now opening educational tours to subsequent launches.

8. all over the world former "Puttkamer students" are involved in space missions and moon missions. This ranges from India to Leipzig to California. Since 2018, the Jesco von Puttkamer School also has a branch in India. A delegation from India is currently visiting Leipzig.

Prof. Dr. Jesco von Puttkamer was the NASA face on German TV for over 50 years. His "children" now dominate social media with educational partners in over 30 countries, driving our future forward. He himself was never in space, but described himself as a "desk astronaut" and in his last book described the "millennium project Mars" and the landing of man on it. Today, he is commemorated by a plaque at the house where he was born in Leipzig and a plaque at his home in Huntsville, Alabama.

Above all, however, his life's work lives on in the steady stream of spaceflight students from the Leipzig school who bear his name. For this 90th birthday, considerable investment has been made in the school this year in the main building, outdoor space and workshops. Take a look for yourself.

Vor allem aber lebt im steten Raumfahrt-Nachwuchs aus der Leipziger Schule mit seinem Namen sein Lebenswerk fort. Für diesen 90. Geburtstag wurde in diesem Jahr beträchtlich in die Schule investiert in Hauptgebäude, Außenbereich und Werkstätten. Machen Sie sich selbst ein Bild.

Those interested in lectures, talks, reminiscences and, above all, the future are very welcome.

The program on 22.9.2023:
2 p.m. Photo meeting at the memorial plaque at the birthplace, Salomonstr. 25, Leipzig
3 p.m. Speech, coffee, cake, tours and lectures on the Puttkamer Campus, Wurzner Str. 4, 04315 Leipzig
7 p.m. get-together for current and future members of the sponsoring association

The program afterwards:
Sep 2023 Start of the 1st student world tour as a 1-year internship.
Oct 2023 Trip to the 2nd test launch of the Starship, Visit to NASA Headquarters
Nov 2023 Indian ISEI partners present Chandrayaan 3 at the "Day of Spaceflight"
Dec 2023 Lectures in India and Africa
Jan 2024 Lectures in Brazil, Mexico and Central America
Feb 2024 NASA rover workshop in Leipzig, Germany
Apr 2024 Contribution to 30 years NASA Roverchallenge in Huntsville AL
May 2024 lectures and exchange programs in Washington DC
2024 regular educational trips to Starship launches with field trips
international summer camp Leipzig
first European Roverchallenge with craft, industry and partners
2025 trip with students to the launch of Artemis 2

International Space Education Institute e.V.
in the campus of the Jesco von Puttkamer School,
Wurzner Str. 4, 04315 Leipzig

Contact person:
Ralf Heckel, chairman
mobile phone/Whatsapp: 0172-7949375
email:Ralf dot Heckel at SpaceEducation dot de

Registration for the birthday party is required via WhatsApp. Admission is free, but birthday gifts are expected in the spirit of the professor after his words: "This youth must be actively supported. This is our debt to bring!"

Birthday gifts please to the donation account:
International Space Education Institute e.V.
Commerzbank Leipzig, IBAN: DE48 8604 0000 0209 9810 04, BIC: COBADEFFXXX

This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

or in the following currencies in the next months and years to continue Puttkamers life's work: - time - commitment - ideas - and also money

Excursions - NASA Tour

The brightest night of my life - the start of the Artemis 1 

11/17/2022 by Ralf Heckel

Fotos Cosmas blog  Rovernauts Launchreports  Raumfahrt Concret  Werner-Heisenberg-School

launchThe 8 buses at the boarding area are already waiting with their engines running. The line is still short. Those who still have a badge from the last attempt can queue up straight away, others still have to go to the NASA office on the side. Next to us is ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet. He flew twice to the ISS with Soyuz and SpaceX's Dragon and spent 396 days in space. Everything goes smoothly. It is already dark and still quite warm at 27 deg C.

2 buses in black pull up. They are the VIP buses. They were prepared especially for this day. One has the Artemis logo on it, the other has the rocket printed on it. We are the only ones who dare to get in front of these buses today and take extensive photos. One of them appears the day after on the front page of the Leipzig Times. A better team photo could not be taken in the dark of that night. I've tried a lot, even with a manual wrist-held portable flash, long exposure bursts, and a number of lenses. Nothing came into focus because either someone walked through the picture or Jesco yawned. Bill Ingalls was missing here…

In batches, the queue moves in the direction of the busses. It's a long line behind us now, reaching across the parking lot. We get the bus 346 and after an extensive counting of all guests with a report to the control center, the night begins. You can't see anything because the windows of the buses are darkened for the day trips in bright sunshine. The light is left on inside for this.


afterboardingThe grandstand at Banana Creek and the parking lot are still empty. The countdown shows T -3:08 hours. We go to the same places as 10 weeks ago and I set up the cameras. The students are busy with their cell phones and our Instagram managers are busy making videos.

The SLS rocket is brightly lit on the horizon, quiet and slightly steaming. It is already filled. That's a good sign. Only 3% hydrogen is missing. The flame blazes again behind the launch tower, flaring off the boiling gases at a safe distance. In contrast to the first attempt, all visitors are now relaxed at this sight. A large screen shows the processes on site and moderators explain what is to come. Live broadcasts to all partners from Houston to Bremen show the size of the project.

SLS1SLS02Then the shock, a leak! The RED TEAM drives with 2 cars directly in front of the steaming and fully fueled rocket. 3 people get out, 2 engineers and a security guard. The engines appear huge and underneath the three of them walk around in white clothes and helmets, climb into the launch tower. What I wouldn't give to be there now, under the steaming and hissing monster that 's about to fly to the moon. One spark and it's all gone. To this day I didn't know that people were allowed to get so close at such a moment. Apparently they are doing their job well. Then the fixed bolt reports a "GO" again. Breathe easy!


During the last half hour, the countdown remains at -10 minutes. Now the flight director queries all the individual departments and demands a GO. Any answer that is a GO will be applauded and cheered by the audience in our grandstand. One place didn't seem sure about. There was no answer 3 times, until finally the GO could be clearly heard. Big cheers. The restlessness in the audience increases with the excitement.

Everyone here is now aware that they are witnessing a new story. They will later be divided into a before and an after. Many do not yet know what is really behind this first start, which tests are now to follow and what they will influence in the future. Only those in the know here know that this rocket will one day put together an entire space station in lunar orbit and thus form the gateway for permanent bases on the moon.

T -15 seconds, "Free for ELS"
T -10 seconds , "Here we go !”
T -7 seconds, counting backwards and everyone counts , including little Jesco
T -4 seconds, the 4 main engines ignite and go up with a cloud
T -1 second, the main engines run at maximum power
T 0 spark shoots through the Solid Rocket Boosters from above and ignites them,

Now there's no turning back! A shock wave shakes the ground and makes the water rough in Banana Creek.

With a great flash, huge blazing white flames erupt from the two boosters, giving instant boost. Several retaining bolts between the rocket and the launch pad tear through and the rocket lifts off. "We have a liftoff !”


 CAM1   CAM2   CAM3    CAM4   CAM5   CAM6   CAM7   CAM8   CAM9 

But otherwise everything is still calm. Slowly, the colossus rises with the weight of a 2,800-ton battleship. That's a third of the weight of the Eiffel Tower. The light is getting brighter and blinding. White clouds are spreading at high speed on the right and left of the ground. More than a million liters of cooling water are currently evaporating here. As the rocket exits the launch tower, they swing the main engines away from it. When leaving the tower, the course maneuver begins. But there is no sign of any of this. Onlookers yelled and screamed incessantly, some holding their phones in front of their faces as the rocket picked up speed. It dazzles like a sun and others shield their eyes with their hands.

back01back02With a rumble rooaar and a gust of wind, the sound wave from the ignition rolls over us all, 15 seconds later. EARTHQUAKE! At this moment, the rocket has already reached a height of about 10 times its length and it is getting faster and faster. The roar was stifled by the sound that thundered down on us. The gases escape from the engines at hypersonic speed, constantly breaking the sound barrier. This incessant rattling goes through marrow and leg. It becomes deafening and is a sound like hundreds of rapid-firing cannons. The whole body vibrates and the grandstand shakes. The riveted aluminum of this construction rattles at all ends.

The rocket is now very high. It illuminates the whole of Cape Canaveral as bright as day. You has nearly to close your eyes. The day after, residents of Cocoa , 30 km away, tell me that they have never seen such a bright launch. Their window panes had never shook in such a way.

jescolooklaunchpadThe steam vapor clouds from the 1 million liters of water are still wafting down on the launch site. It's getting dark there now. Only the afterglow of the hot exhaust gases from the SRB 's can be seen in the middle. The aluminum ash that still burned our skin 16 years ago when one of these clouds was carried towards the audience by the wind is glowing yellow and red. This cloud now swirls mystically around the lightning rod, while the surroundings are again shrouded in black and a black column of black smoke, which is slowly becoming longer, points out of it into the sky. At the end, a bright flame flickers like a sparkler. She also emits rays when you squint.

In the meantime, from our position, the Artemis seems to have reached the top. It hangs like a lamp on a huge slender stand of smoke illuminating the entire region. Even the damp air grows light, lighter than the black column of smoke beneath it. But the light grows pale and casts long, sharp shadows. The thunder dies down. The rocket is now just a flickering short dash, seemingly arcing downward, heading straight for the crescent moon lingering below. He is lying on his stomach and seems to want to catch her like an open-topped bowl.

slscompletesls-seperationCalmness slowly sets in. Artemis 1 has largely left the atmosphere. It's getting dark fast. Spellbound, everyone looks after the blazing point of light. The comments on the loudspeakers can be understood again. "T + 2 min, SRB- separation " A clapping goes through the group while the point of light in the sky splits into 3 smaller points. The two solid rocket boosters have separated and are moving away from the center. This one is just very weak. These are the 4 main engines that already provided the thrust for the Space Shuttle and now accelerate the emptying rocket to maximum thrust. This is now followed by 6 minutes of quiet but steadily increasing acceleration and loading up to 3G. The structure of the emptying tanks in the main engine block now groans with strain. The spaceship "Orion" sits at the top of the tube. If the astronaut Helga in there wasn't a dummy, she would now have long cheeks and be happy. This is where the formula from physics lessons materializes: F=m*a (force equals mass by acceleration). The mass decreases with rapidly emptying tanks and with the same full load thrust the acceleration increases congruently.

seperationThe atmosphere in the stands dissolves into appreciative and astonished tones. All lights are off so we can track the slowly receding spot. He flies past the moon to the left and heads down towards the horizon. Not much happens with the comments. The big screen is off to enjoy the moment. Now clap again. The main stage has been successfully separated. The dot goes out. Now the cruise engines of block 3 ignite. But that is only one engine and this flame can no longer be seen.

Our students still can't believe it. Sakurako has her hands on her face and looks through her spread fingers as if she wants to stay in the old days for a while. "Wow", " Amazing ", "Awesome" are the words I hear more and more now. The lighting is switched on again.

finaleWelcome new world! The 2nd lunar age has begun and we were the only ones of our countries and ages to be there. Up to Artemis 2, we will carry this experience and its message to schools around the world with these 6 students as part of several world trips and help shape the multinational Artemis-Generation.

There will also be a new young talent competition in Europe, which is politically more independent, more future-oriented and multinationally more balanced than anything we have been able to get to know and help shape so far.

Team Attempt 1-2 (September 2022):
Jesco Heckel (8), Primary School, Germany
Tara Heckel (13), Secondyry School, Germany
Arthur Sommer (17), Highschool, Germany
Cosma Heckel (15), Highschool, Germany
Sakurako Kuba (27), Embry Riddle University, Japan
Valeria Vazquez Zafra (24), Tesla, Mexico
Abaham Vega (21), Tec Cuernavaca, Mexico
Ian Doring (19), Tec Cuernavaca, Mexico
Jorge Emiliano Turner Escalante (20), Tec Cuernavaca, Mexico
Sebastian Cruz (22), Tec Cuernavaca, Mexico
Daniela Espinosa (20), Tec Cuernavaca, Mexico

Team Launch:
Jesco Heckel (8), Primary School, Germany
Sakurako Kuba (27), Embry Riddle University, Japan
Valencia Jaco (11), Secondyry School, USA
Valeria Vazquez Zafra (24), Tesla, Mexico
Arthur Sommer (17), Highschool, Germany
Cosma Heckel (15), Highschool, Germany

special thanks to:
Yvonne & Ralf Heckel (
David Suarez, Tec Cuernavaca, Mexico
Prof. Dr.Jesco von Puttkamer (1933-2012)
Dr. Alotta Taylor (NASA-HQ)
Shera McNeill (NASA-HQ)
James Free (NASA)
Barbara Zelon (NASA)
William (Bill) Readdy (Discovery Partners)

thanks to our sponsors:
Space Hotel Leipzig
Beachside Hotel & Suits, Cocoa Beach
Motel 6, Cocoa Beach
Gregorys Steak & Seafood, Cocoa Beach

more Fotos:
more videos: (playlist Artemis 1)
Student Space Blog:

Leipziger Volkszeitung
Raumfahrt Concret

This educational travel and excursion was managed by International Space Education Institute Leipzig/Germany.

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Excursions - NASA Tour

From “Return to Flight” to “Return to the Moon”
change after 20 years of SpaceEducation
Ralf Heckel

Fotos Cosmas Tagebuch  Rovernauts Startberichte  Raumfahrt Concret  Werner-Heisenberg-Gymnasium

sts121artemisvideoLast night at 1:47 am, Artemis 1, the brightest rocket of all time, was launched towards the moon. I was there with a handful of students from 3 continents. They are all currently struggling for words and trying to write down their experiences. It's not easy at all. It was her first experience of launching a giant rocket. The whole year 2022 on standby, two transatlantic travels, a cancelled attempt by hurricane Ian, presentations at the 37th German Space Day, sleepless nights after a long flight and finishing homework, jet lag and excitement put everyone in a trance that feels like being on a submarine.

But it all goes back 20 years. Exactly 20 years ago in the autumn, Professor Dr. von Puttkamer said: "I'm in Leipzig right now and if you want, we can meet up." Freshly in love with Yvonne, we came to the Hotel Fürstenhof and listened to what the professor had to say. “We will soon be expanding the ISS and for that we need young people, because one day we want to go back to the moon. If you do well and stick to that goal, I promise you'll be there with a new generation of space explorers.” At the time, that sounded too fantastic to be true. Nevertheless, it should take 20 years until this promise should come true in return for solid youth work around the world.

Step by step we implemented the professor's ideas until he opened doors at NASA in return. The first launch window opened three years later with an invitation to the shuttle launch at Cape Canaveral. "Return to Flight" was the name of the flight of the Discovery, which was the first space shuttle to resume flight operations after the Columbia disaster. Pilot Eileen Collins heralded the space age of women. Since then, the ISS space station has been expanded and 10 years ago the last of the proud swans flew. We saw 3 launches and one landing, mostly with students. We provided the first international team at the NASA Rover Challenge, won prizes and inspired thousands of students with complex trips around the world, from which hundreds of teams emerged. Everything always with the words of the professor: "You have to be trail blazers and take responsibility for what follows!" That's how it happened until the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11, with the 3rd world champion title. Our strongest participants are the girls. They sit in the front of the pilot's seat, not only in the Roverchallenge.

But the female astronauts moved on board the ISS, the first woman on the moon is being discussed and “Helga”, an astronaut dummy from Germany, is now sitting in the Orion capsule. Astronaut Pamela Melroy , with whom we shared the same hotel in 2005, is now NASA's deputy administrator. That's why today more girls than boys are with me at Banana Creek, watching the rocket launch and listening to the instructions of the first flight director in history, Ms. Charlie Blackwell-Thompson.

campusobservatoryIn the last 20 years and especially between these two starts, Yvonne and I have not only built a campus that is created exactly for this Artemis generation (young people in contrast to the Apollo generation, which is now of retirement age), but also have our own 3 children brought another 300 international students on this path. 2 of them are with us today. There are 2 young women, both engineers. One, Valeria (24), is now an engineer at Tesla and works on the Cybertruck. The other, Sakurako (27), is now a pilot and engineer. She is aiming for an astronaut career with her home agency JAXA. Others have become aerospace engineers, entrepreneurs, managers, teachers or good craftsmen. Jasleen from India now works at Boeing in Houston. Firine, the pilot of our NASA Rover Challenge winning team of 2019 in the 50th year of the Apollo 11, has been studying aerospace engineering at TU Delft since this year.

ilafreeNow that the pandemic has passed, we are starting with a whole new generation. That's why Cosma (15) and Arthur (17) are there as representatives of the high schools who can consciously pass on their experiences. Both did brilliantly, last week on the 37th Space Day, before NASA Associated Administrator of the Artemis program, James Free. We are now planning several world tours with them through numerous schools through 2026 as part of our own ambassador program similar to Work & Travel for SpaceExploration. There are partners in 30 countries on our list to work through. The smallest representatives are Jesco (8) and Valencia (11). They pass on their experiences in a playful way in primary and secondary schools.

These are all results that you don't have to hide from, no matter how rocky this path was and no matter how many setbacks there were. They are the result of solid work that must not be messed with. And as with all successful endeavors, ours also have their envious people. But more on that later. I see this as a distinguishing feature and award from people who capitulate to the need to "take the difficult path". Our former host from 2005, then-astronaut and administrator of US manned space travel, Bill Ready, is still our advisor behind the scenes today.

But now our small group of four is sitting in the Beachside Hotel in Cocoa Beach and writing down the experiences of yesterday. I'm trying it too.

Web link: Experience report from 2005 "Return to Flight", created at the Radisson Cocoa Beach at the time:


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Excursions - NASA Tour

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
14.11.2022, Arthur Sommer & Cosma Heckel

photos Cosmas blog  Rovernauts Launchreports  Raumfahrt Concret  Werner-Heisenberg-School

Today we visited Embry Riddle University to get a sense of our own future. Jasleen Josan Kaur already studied at this university and Sakurako Kuba is currently. Both are former students of our school and now role models for us.

erau01campusIn the middle of the night, there was a sudden clatter in our room. A soda can fell from the shelf. Since it was not too long until sunrise, we decided to watch it. 6.44 o'clock it should be so far, however, a thick cloud layer at the horizon covered the first sunbeams. We didn't mind, though, since after a few minutes it emerged from behind the red-orange edges of the clouds.

Just in time for breakfast, we arrived at the room. A few minutes later, the hotel manager greeted us with her daughter. Valencia is 11 years old and also excited about space travel. That's why we agreed yesterday at check-in that we could take her with us today. As a thank you, her mother gave us a bigger room, because until now we lived in a quite small room. That is very nice of her.

erau02Shortly after 9am we got in the car and drove north to Daytona for about an hour. When we arrived at the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University campus, everything looked very new and modern. Ralf says he could hardly recognize anything compared to 4 years ago. Even though there are many huge parking lots for the many students, we had to search for a while until we found a free parking space. We went to the Welcome Center of the university, while we were waiting for Sakurako Kuba. She is studying here and agreed to accompany us besides the normal tours, as well as to provide more insights.

She was running a little late due to a meeting and the crowded parking lots, but she finally came through the door. Now we were ready to go. Our guides were students Caroline and Madison. Both are studying for Homeland Security here. Caroline specifically in terrorism and children.
After a brief verbal overview of the campus, we headed to the Engineering Building at 11:40am, which is across the street from the Welcome Center. There we could see many classrooms, club areas and more. Here you can study civil, electrical, computer, mechanical, physiology, software development, and aerospace engineering, among others. We peeked into isolated classrooms and were told about the Rocket Club, as well as the Eco-Car competition. We passed the local supercomputer, the wind channel, IT seminar rooms, workshops, material storage and exhibition rooms until we stopped in front of a concrete model airplane. Caroline explained to us the complexity of the construction and that the light variants of concrete can be particularly efficient and stable if they are processed correctly.

Inside of the Engeneering College.

Amazed, we left the building and walked across campus to the College of Arts and Science, which is particularly eye-catching due to the round observatory on the roof. This building has the largest telescope in the southeastern U.S. with 1m diameter mirrors. Astronomy, applied mathematics, physics, and social studies are among the subjects taught there. While we unfortunately did not enter this building, it was apparent that many students attend these classes, as the skateboard racks in front of the entrance were fully occupied.

Short explanation: Since the campus is flat and large, most students move around with the help of (electric) longboards or (e-)scooters. To secure these in front of the entrance, there are also skateboard racks instead of bike racks.

The campus area was well filled, as was the Union Center, which became our next stop as a break had just begun. This building is located in the middle of campus and it looks like a futuristic spaceship on the outside as well as the inside. After the main entrance, you find yourself in a dining hall. In the middle of the hall you can look up to the glass roof. If you go up the stairs, you will find a study area with open but also private spaces for the students. On the third floor is a large library equipped with soundproof glass. This is already where our tour ended. We said goodbye to Madison and Caroline and sat down in the dining hall.

Inside of the Student Union Center. (copyright: International Space Education Institute)

After lunch, we walked with Sakurako to the Aviation Maintenance Building, which is located next to the university's airfield. This belongs to the Daytona Beach International Airport, which we consider quite impressive. On the roof terrace, from which you can overlook the whole airfield with the regularly starting small Cessnas, but also large aircraft. Not far away, behind the airfield, we saw the Daytona International Speedway. There the worldwide known Nascar races are held.

Suddenly, in a friendly voice in a familiar language, a "Hello you guys, you're from Germany too!" came up. It was a young exchange student from Stuttgart named Laurin. He is studying here, or rather also in Germany, to become a pilot. He has been here since August this year and seems to have had a lot of good experiences. We walked a little bit with him until it was time for our 2 p.m. Aviation Tour.

Meeting german exchange student Laurin at Aviation Maintenance Center. (copyright: International Space Education Institute)

This also started at the Welcome Center, from where we took a short detour to the Student Union and finally entered the Aviation Maintenance Building.

There we visited both floors of the building. The first floor was mainly occupied by teaching and material rooms. In addition to weather stations, there are also technical seminars for international students. We especially noticed the altitude trainer (hypoxia training), which every prospective pilot has to pass at least 4-5 times.

On the second floor there were primarily seminars and simulators that dealt with aeronautical science. We walked past many rooms where lectures were being given and students were studying. We then stopped in a room full of screens where prospective air traffic controllers were training. Jamie introduced a few of them and explained that all the procedures shown on the screens are live and real. The students use them to practice their skills.

Jamie talking about Tower Simulation at floor 2 in Aviation Maintenance. (copyright: International Space Education Institute)

On the third and last floor, everything revolved around the weather. Right at the beginning there was a weather studio which was equipped with a green screen. This is where the university's own weather forecasts are recorded and shared internally. Many well-known weather presenters have already graduated from this university, as Jamie explained. As the walk continued, students were trained in weather forecasting, map reading, and reporting. In the process, we learned a thing or two as well.

14:40 we moved to Flight Operations across the hall. From here, students sign in for their flight lessons, are briefed, receive feedback, and enter the airfield. Also located here is the university's communications tower, which of course is also run by students.

The last thing we looked at was the Advanced Flight Simulation Center. There are numerous simulators, some extremely advanced, that you can use to train at any time of day and in any weather. This is great for beginners or training with flying conditions in snow that don't normally exist in Florida. However, some require certain flight licenses to be able to use them. Because even if you already know how to fly, you need more skill to be able to pilot larger types of aircraft. We looked at the other rooms before we left this building as well.


Teamphoto with Tourguide Jamie. (copyright: International Space Education Institute)Palm-Avenue at Embry-Riddle Universtity. (copyright: International Space Education Institute)At the end of our tour, we were back on Palm Avenue, which is located between the Student Union and the flight training buildings we had just visited. After a photo with Jamie, our visit was coming to an end. Before, Jesco was eager to get some exercise, so we went to the campus' nearby fitness center. There, in addition to the typical gym equipment, there are several climbing walls that extend over two floors.

Thus, we had explored all the major facilities and now made our way to the parking lot. Afterwards we drove back over the Interstate 95, a large highway comparable with the A4 from Germany, back to Cocoa Beach. There we met the hotel manager again and said goodbye to Valencia. A little later Valeria Vazquez Zafra arrived, whom we were expecting by now. It was nice to see her again.

With her arrival and an evening visit to the beach we let the day end.


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Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

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The currently most powerful rocket in the world is back on the launch pad. We are on site with 6 students from 3 continents as NASA VIP guests. All experiences will be published here shortly. Keep track of our accounts too Facebook, Instagram Flickr and Youtube.

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