Monday, April 23, 2007

Scouts in Space

Scouts, here are some interesting facts about scouts who have been into space.

With a keen interest in space flight and as an ex-astronomer, I just couldn't help myself !

Of the 294 men and women selected to be astronauts since 1959 to 2005, more than 180 have been Scouts.

Baden-Powell wrote in the first volume of his autobiography about those “clear frosty nights under the dark, overhead vault with its stars big and brilliant, twinkling humorously and watching you”. He could not have imagined that just 35 years later we would be up amongst them, exploring outer space.

Astonishingly, 11 of the 12 men to have walked on the moon were Scouts. Even more remarkably perhaps, two thirds of all the astronauts ever to have gone into space were involved in Scouting. When NASA began its astronaut selection process, they were looking for people who were not only fit and technically proficient, but who had an even temperament and above all, a thirst for adventure. It was no coincidence that the majority of those who were handed “tickets to the moon” were former Scouts.

Despite the huge resources ploughed into the first manned space flights, the astronauts were still taking enormous risks. It was vital that those who spent days in the cramped conditions could keep calm under pressure and cope with being thousands of miles from Earth. Of course, many were former test pilots, but the confidence and initiative of the young men who had come from Scouting also impressed NASA.

One Giant Leap
Surely the most famous of all the “Space Scouts” was Neil Armstrong. Born in Ohio in the US on 5 August 1930, his interest in flight began early, when as a Scout he built and flew model planes. By the age of 16, he had earned his student’s pilot licence.

When Armstrong become the commander of the Apollo XI mission to the moon in 1969, he was to lead “Buzz” Aldrin and Michael Collins in one of the most daring exploits of the 20th century. On 20 July 1969, from the surface of the moon, Armstrong famously proclaimed: “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind”.

In 1971, Armstrong resigned from NASA and moved back to Ohio. As well as being honoured by his country, he also received the Boy Scouts of America’s highest honour: the Silver Buffalo Award. What’s more, Armstrong had carried the World Scout Badge with him on his historic mission.
There is a curious addition to Armstrong’s Scouting story. When 17 year old American Scout, Ken Dayton, was working towards his Space Exploration Badge, he was disappointed to learn that there were no certified adjudicators available to sign it off. Jokingly, his leader suggested he should ask an astronaut. Dayton drove 150 miles directly to Armstrong’s farm in Ohio and gave his presentation on the driveway. Armstrong’s testimony read: “I am not a certified instructor, however in my opinion; Ken has completed all requirements satisfactorily!”

As a side note, popular British sci-fi comedy of the 90’s Red Dwarf had a character that was a hologram called Arnold J Rimmer who was in the Space Scouts along with his brothers, Frank, John and Howard!

Scouts Australia is currently investigating whether Australian astronaut Andrew Thomas, originally from Adelaide, is a former Scout, he is thought to be...

Scouts Australia Award Scheme
In line with the achievements of astronauts, Scouts Australia's award scheme encourages interest and participation in science, space and flying:

Can cover the area of Scientific Discovery (The World Around Us) as part of the Boomerang Scheme.
Attain the Achievement Badges for: Space; Flight; Scientist.
Achieve the Air Activities Badge for each of the Pioneer, Explorer and Adventurer Badges.
Achieve Proficiency Badges for: Astronomer; Science.
Venturer Scouts - Can participate in air activities.
Rovers - Can participate in air activities.

Did you know that as a Venturer or Rover (hopefully leaders too !) you can learn to fly through scouts ? You can, flying training is conduted at the Scout Air Activities Centre at Camden.

Avoca Scouts visited the Air Activities Centre back in December 2005. Scouts, must be time to go again soon, ask your leaders !

Lastly, Australian scouts have a special affinity with space through the new scout uniform, we're Trekkies !

Hmmm, Star Trek Voayger !
It would seem Scouts Australia was very clever in the design department (not..), right down to the section colours !
The designers must have been Trekkies (Star Trek fans).
Can't say I am a real fan of the new uniform though, scouts overall lost the "look" that everyone associated with scouting and sea scouts lost their distinguishing uniform which stood out from landlubber scouts (Avoca Beach Scouts are actually sea scouts you know). Also as unfortunately the new uniform has to be changed as a member progresses through each section, this adds to the cost of scouting, and I am definitely not a supporter of that, scouting should be affordable for everyone. Anyway that discussion for another day...


1 comment:

Mang (433rd) said...

Nice article, I linked to it below:

Thanks, Mang
PS. Odd uniforms :)