The Challenger Learning Center of Northwest Indiana and select students from Hammond's elementary schools will connect live with Lockheed Martin Engineer Brian Foss on Tuesday, July 21 during their week of astronaut training summer camp. Foss is a materials and process engineer and part of the team working to develop NASA's next vehicle to take humans to space: Orion.

Beginning at 9:30 a.m. the campers will be able to ask Foss, an Indiana native and Purdue graduate, questions about the vehicle, and specifically the life support systems on which his team is focused on.

"Every year we offer each of Hammond's elementary schools a chance to select two students to participate in a week of specialized training activities and simulations at our learning center. It's a memorable week for both the staff and the students," said Rebecca Manis, director of Challenger Learning Center. "Our goal is to get them just thinking about a career in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) fields, and the Orion is the next amazing step in human spaceflight. One of these students could be heading back to the Moon or even on to Mars on a vehicle just like this."

The Orion spacecraft is a key component of the NASA human space exploration system that will provide an entirely new capability for the United States - a flexible system able to launch crew and cargo missions, extend human presence beyond low-Earth orbit, and enable new missions of exploration throughout our solar system. Orion's first mission will set NASA on the path to accomplishing those goals.

Challenger Learning Center programs give students the chance to become astronauts and engineers and solve real-world problems as they use space simulation and role-playing strategies to bring learning to life. The center, the only of its kind in Indiana, is part of a network of International centers who carry on the education mission of the Challenger 5L crew and First Teacher In Space, Christa McAuliffe. For more information about the center's public and school programming, visit www.clcnwi.com.