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Rebecca Blum and Jon Blum with a large telescope at an open park
Rebecca Blum and Jon Blum

Astronaut Aspirations

Teen starts space club, joins national programs, follows her passion.

Stacy Gittleman Contributing Writer

While some kids spend their summers at camp with oars in the water, Rebecca Blum of Bloomfield Hills spent hers with her mind on the cosmos.

Rebecca, a junior at Cranbrook Kingswood Upper School in Bloomfield Hills, possesses a passion for space exploration and hopes one day to research how space and microgravity affect the human body.

She spent the last five summers at the United States Space Camp in Huntsville, Ala., and brought what she learned to school, where she also started the Beyond Earth space club.

“I know there are risks in space exploration, but if it is the one thing I want to do with my life, I’d take the risk.”
— Rebecca Blum

These efforts won her recognition as one of 25 high school students in the nation to be recognized as Student Ambassador Group 1, the first class of students in the Back to Space ambassador program.

In mid-October, Rebecca attended a gala at the Frontiers of Flight Museum in Dallas, timed with the 50th anniversary of the historic Apollo 7 mission. There, she met Apollo 15 Command Module Pilot Al Worden, Apollo 16 Lunar Module Pilot Charlie Duke and Andrew Aldrin, son of Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin.

Back to Space is a nonprofit organization founded by Danielle Roosa, granddaughter of Apollo 14 astronaut Stuart Roosa. It strives to preserve the legacy of the Apollo astronauts, and to prepare and inspire high school students to focus on the future of STEM education (Science, Technology, Engineering and math) and the future of U.S. space exploration efforts.

 Rebecca Blum with Apollo 16 Lunar Module Pilot Charlie Duke and his wife, Dottie, at a gala event in mid-October for the Back to Space program. Newsroom | Detroit Jewish News

Rebecca Blum with Apollo 16 Lunar Module Pilot Charlie Duke and his wife, Dottie, at a gala event in mid-October for the Back to Space program.

See a video about Space Camp and the Kennedy Space Center

Beginning Interest

Rebecca first gained her zeal for space through stargazing outings with her grandfather Jon Blum of Farmington Hills. She would spend many nights with him peering through his telescope and meeting other amateur astronomers. During the 2017 solar eclipse, Blum went on a family trip with her grandfather to see the total eclipse in Oregon.

“My granddaughter has been looking through my telescope since she was 2,” Jon Blum said to an audience of astronomers before Rebecca gave a talk last July about her experiences at the Kennedy Space Center. “At age 7, she drew a picture of herself as an astronaut on the moon because she did not like the news that no woman had yet visited the moon. Now, she has her sights even farther, perhaps she will be the first woman on Mars.”

Rebecca is the daughter of Steve and Stephanie Blum. She has a younger brother, Ryan, 14. They belong to the Birmingham Temple in Farmington Hills, where Rebecca participates in the post-b’nai mitzvah program.

“I think many kids have the passion to hone their STEM skills to fuel the next wave of space exploration,” said Rebecca, 16, who also, with help from her science teachers, created a blueprint for replicating the Beyond Earth club, which has started at schools in five other states.

She also helps run a space enrichment program at an elementary school to inspire interest in space.

lum at U.S. Space Camp in 2014 on the Multi-Axis trainerNewsroom | Detroit Jewish News

lum at U.S. Space Camp in 2014 on the Multi-Axis trainer

As a junior, she planned her high school transcript to carry advanced placement science classes. She hopes to pursue a career in biology that researches the emerging field of space medicine to examine how space affects humans and diseases such as cancer and how new medications developed in micro gravities can be used on Earth to treat these diseases.

This spring, Rebecca plans to attend PoSSUM Space Academy at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

“It is important for humans to continue their natural curiosity about space and explore what is out there. Exploring space is something I have wanted to do my entire life, and I have a great desire to become an astronaut.,” she said.

“I know there are risks in space exploration, but if it is the one thing I want to do with my life, I’d take the risk. I’m not too worried.”

See a video about Space Camp and the Kennedy Space Center

Stacy Gittleman

Stacy Gittleman is an award-winning journalist and has been a contributing writer for the Detroit Jewish News for the last five years. Prior to moving to Metro Detroit in 2013, she was a columnist and feature writer for Gannett's Democrat & Chronicle in Rochester, NY. She also manages social media pages for other local non-profit organizations including the Interfaith Leadership Council of Metropolitan Detroit. Contact her with breaking news and feature story ideas that impact Detroit's Jewish community at stacy.gittleman@yahoo.com

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