Anybody want to be an astronaut?

Project PoSSUM coming to Farmington

Farmington middle school teacher Todd Kohorst helped bring Project PoSSUM to Farmington this summer. (Photo submitted)
Farmington middle school teacher Todd Kohorst helped bring Project PoSSUM to Farmington this summer. (Photo submitted)

Boeckman Middle School science teacher Todd Kohorst imagines he’s not the only one who grew up dreaming of being an astronaut.

Kohorst trained with Project PoSSUM, which stands for Polar Suborbital Science in the Upper Mesosphere, last October at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Florida, where he essentially trained for spaceflight.

He knew several students who would have loved to have joined him, and now they can.

PoSSUM Academy is coming to Farmington for two, four-day sessions Aug. 1-5 and Aug. 8-12 with an optional fifth day at Boeckman Middle School.

Students will receive academic instruction, spend time in a flight simulator and try on spacesuits during the experience.

This will be similar Kohorst’s experience last fall in Florida.

Project PoSSUM studies the upper mesosphere and the noctilucent clouds that are there. There will be several hours of classroom instruction involved, but Kohorst said he feels like any student should be able to comprehend the material.

“I feel like it will all make sense,” Kohorst said. “It’s very attainable. We don’t plan on doing any calculus, maybe a little trigonometry. It’s definitely doable for anyone.”

This is the first PoSSUM Academy set up outside of Embry Riddle Aeronautical University. Kohorst worked hard over the past few months to bring it here.fm possum academy logo

The optional fifth day will focus on the physiology of spaceflight and a simulated spaceflight in a aircraft. Students will experience an aerobatics flight and what it’s like to fly in high-G and zero-G situations.

“They’ll go up in essentially an airplane that can do real tight turns,” Kohorst said. “You’re getting some real G forces in different directions.”

Students will try on special garments for extreme-G force that keep blood flow toward the top of the body, and they will learn special breathing techniques to handle the extreme situations.

The fifth day was separated because it will cost an additional $650, and Kohorst said “perhaps not everyone will be interested in experiencing super-G forces.”

The teachers will include Kohorst, a spacesuit technician, flight simulator technician and Dr. Jason Reimuller, the principal investigator of Project PoSSUM.

PoSSUM Academy is for any Minnesota high school or undergraduate student. They can accept 24 students per session.

Students will receive a graduation certificate following the experience.

PoSSUM Academy is available to high school and post secondary students ages 16 and up and it’s not limited to Farmington students.

Kohorst hopes this is just the beginning.

“We could do it again next year.” Kohorst said.  “If we can commit to doing this a few years in a row, they could leave the flight simulator.”

For more information, including pricing and how to apply, visit http://projectpossum.org/1204-2/possum-academy.