Several Russell Elementary School students in Cobb County had the opportunity to participate in STS-18, an exciting day-long mission to “space.”

The students are part of the Russell Space Team, which is made up of 4th and 5th graders at the school. The students were selected after an application process.

“Each year, the team trains for a simulated space mission, which involves students working in Mission Control and four student ‘astronauts’ who man the shuttle simulator (the shuttle, by the way, is named ‘The Intrepid’),” according to an article on the Fox5 News website. “The crews work together, communicating via UHF radio frequencies, for a total of 27 hours, from liftoff to landing. As STS-18 implies, this is the 18th space mission for the Russell Space Team, under the direction of Mr. Chris Laster.”

Joel Katzowitz attended the simulated mission and posted information about the event at

“On Thursday, May 12, 2016 I attended the STS-18 Shuttle sim mission at Russell Elementary School in Smyrna Georgia. It was my third consecutive mission experience and I’m still amazed that an elementary school can pull off such a feat,” Katzowitz said in the post. “The entire school, along with the surrounding community, gets involved and supports the mission.”

Here’s some interesting facts about the mission:

  • The space team learns over 100 acronyms for the mission.
  • The mission lasts for 27 hours; the students study for 9 months.
  • It is the only program of its kind in the nation.
  • The shuttle contains four fully functional seats from a Vietnam-ear USAF C-130 military aircraft.
  • There are nine panels and 400+ working switches in the cockpit area.
  • The shuttle has sleeping accommodations for six, 36 storage lockers, a galley, and “Mr. Thirsty” (the bathroom).
  • More than 600 students have participated in the Russell Space Program since its inception.
  • The space team uses “Go flight! Telemetry Simulation Software”. This program was written for the Russell Space Team using the Visual Basic 6.0 programing language.
  • The mission patches are designed by student members of the team.
  • No mission has ever been aborted.