Pratt youth attends space camp, becomes command module pilot

Jennifer Stultz
Pratt Tribune
Dylan Lehman, 12, of Pratt, sits in a Russian space capsule, working with his teammates at Space Camp to decode operation buttons in a foreign language.
Standing in front of an ISS mockup, Dylan Lehman of Pratt, holds graduation certificates and commendations from a Live and Thrive space camp he attended last week at the Hutchinson Cosmosphere.

Dylan Lehman of Pratt has always had a keen interest in science with many successful science fair projects under his belt. Little did the 12-year-old know that learning those processes of research and dedicated study habits would benefit him in outer space someday.

Well almost outer space. From June 17-20 last week, Lehman was a command module pilot and integeral team-leader at a Hutchinson Cosmosphere Space Camp, an experience he qualified for through apptitude testing. Out of 40 applicants, Lehman was one of 20 selected for the experience. Camp participants came from all over the state of Kansas, as well as from other states like Ohio and California. 

"It was better than I ever expected," Lehman said. "I had never been to any kind of camp like this before but I have always wanted to learn more about space. This has inspired me to be an astronaut someday."

Lehman said going to space camp was definitely the highlight of his summer so far. Long days at camp that began at 8:30 a.m. and didn't end until after 10 p.m. flew by very fast as he spent time learning how to operate multi-access simulators, decode Russian instructions, speak with mission control, plot coordinates, and develop team-working skills with partners never before met and studied law and ethics to set up a new government.

"It was so interesting, we never got tired," Lehman said. "We had to go through a bunch of training exercises like building lego statues, and we took several knowledge tests. I got the highest point totals in my Charlie Company group so I got to be the pilot in the capsule."

A new world-class space capsule simulator and lander, drone and robotics assembly, virtual reality and more were utilized in the summer camp experience, which required science, technology, engineering and math in each mission as well as other skills needed for living and working in space. 

Lehman, who came home with a Mars t-shirt, Space Camp 2021 and mission control pilot badges and commendation certificates, said he plans to go to the next level of space camp in the future.

He graduated from the Live and Thrive session and hopes to enter World Orbit next.

"My teachers at Pratt really helped inspire my interest and helped me expand my world into space," Lehman said. "They helped me get a scholarship to go to this camp. It was a great experience."