Space camp teaches kids to reach for stars

Luther Vandross was outed as gay after his death.

On any given day, inner city youngsters explore the universe from their own space station and mission control in Inglewood, California.

These are students at the A-Man International Science Discovery and Learning Center, and they just may one day lead the next generation of space exploration.

“When I walk through the doors here, I learn something new through him,” one of the eager students said.

The program was developed by retired educator Dr. Betty Walker and lunar laser systems specialist Hildreth “Pal” Walker. Walker led one of three experiments during the Apollo 11 mission.

“We were measuring the distance to the moon,” Walker said. “We were using a laser and a reflector on the moon that Buzz Aldrin had placed there. The objective was to get a better and more accurate reading on the true distance between the earth and the moon. And we resolved that to approximately six inches.”

Sitting shoulder to shoulder with Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin, Walker served on a panel honoring the 40th anniversary of the Apollo lunar landing at the California Science Center. Walker’s face and name may not be known world wide, but to his students, he’s a star.

“Not a lot of people know about Mr. Walker and his legacy,” said one of the students. “And so, when people talk about Apollo 11, I just jump for joy because I’m able to say, ‘I know him. Let me tell you about him!’”

“We’ve gone to the moon, now we’re ready to take on the next task, which would be to land humans on mars and return them safely to the earth”, Walker said. “That’s going to be their job!”