Taking a giant leap into space exploration

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Undergrad physics class, study of Apollo missions fuel Crestwood man’s interest in space

By Danna Zabrovsky

A Crestwood native is taking one small step toward a career as an astronaut.
Jake Gamsky, 23, a physics major at the University of Kentucky and 2006 graduate of South Oldham High School, was recently admitted to the International Space University space studies program.
The two-month program starts in July in Graz, Austria, and Gamsky hopes it will further his knowledge of all things space related.
The program offerings at ISU are not the standard fare of college physics courses.
Studies are tailored to help physicists succeed in the up-and-coming private space industry.
“That’s going to be big in the next few years,” Gamsky said. “It’s an inter-disciplinary study of all things that go into space exploration. Not just science and engineering, but space law, space policy, space business.”
The UK Physics & Astronomy Department and the American Astronautical Society are funding his trip to the conference.
Gamsky realized he was interested in physics in his second semester at Georgetown College, where he studied and played baseball before attending UK.
“That’s when I started to learn about all the Apollo missions, and just how incredible those were. That kind of fueled it.”
In college, Gamsky spent a semester at the NASA Kennedy Space Center in Florida, where he worked in the Lunar Surface Systems lab conducting investigations and research that will inform future moon missions.
He also studied at the NASA Ames Space Center in California, where he experimented with moon regolith, which is like dirt on the moon’s surface.
Gamsky brought Students for the Exploration and Development of Space, a group created by the founders of the ISU for people interested in space, to UK.
He also spoke to a room of 300 people last year on the current state of space exploration and some of the projects NASA and private companies are working on.
Before attending ISU, Gamsky will work with the Commercial Space Flight Federation in Washington, D.C.
The federation works with Congress and private companies to develop policies and regulations for private space endeavors. Gamsky described space exploration as “really political,” and said people looking for work in the space industry require a knowledge of the rules and regulations of space travel.
Gamsky will graduate from UK this spring, and plans to attend the University of Colorado in the fall to study aerospace engineering with a concentration in bioastronautics.
The program looks at different requirements for maintaining human life in space, such as space habitat design, human interaction within the space habitat, and control of radiation in space.
He said he hopes to one day work with a private company such as SpaceX, which has a contract with NASA and is building rockets to bring people to the International Space Station, and beyond.
“When those companies start to develop and actually put people in space, they’re going to need people that understand bioastronautics,” Gamsky said. “Doing this program is going to really help me in my career.”

E-mail us about this story at: danna@oldhamera.com.