First Kids in Space, by Tristan Bancks

‘Dash Campbell. You ready?’
I nod.
‘3, 2, 1…Engage.’
I feel the pod move under me. My head and shoulders are thrust back into the red leather seat.
The washed-out monitor in front of me shows a live video image of my face. Numbers jitter across the top of the screen. The number on top right flips quickly from 1G to 1.5G, up to 2G. Then 2.5G to 3G. 3G means that the pressure I’m feeling on my body is three times my regularly body weight. My arms are pinned to the armrests. I feel like I’m being fired from a cannon directly into the air, but I haven’t even left the ground.

Dash, and four other young teenagers have been given the opportunity to see if they have what it takes to go into space. What an adventure! Dash has wanted this as long as he can remember. Even before his Mum left, leaving him with his perpetually worn down stepfather, he’s wanted to go into space. He’s made rockets in his house, but nothing could prepare him for this. And there’s not much time. Dash, Yada, Scott, Rafaela and Zarif have their work cut out for them. They will have a month to train. In that time, they need to learn about all the different elements of space travel. Their teacher, Chuck Palatnik, has worked with both Russian and American space programs. The only thing is, Palatnik doesn’t seem to like any of them much, but he seems to save his worst for Dash. He says they only need one of them to go on the rocket, and it seems he’d be quite happy if they all fail.

How many kids dream about travelling into space? Only a very small proportion maintain the dream and make it reality. But winning a prize that gives you that chance, how good would that be? But what could prepare you for the danger, the physical challenges that you need to master if you are to take that final step and leave earth bound for a space station. Tristan Bancks holds on to the excitement while detailing some of the obstacles to be overcome. For Dash, it’s not only a dream come true, but a chance to break free of the relentless drudgery that is life with his stepfather since the disappearance of his mother. If you’ve ever wanted to know what goes on in an astronaut training program, or wanted to prepare for space travel, without abandoning your teenage sense of humour or bravado, this is the novel for you. Recommended for upper-primary and early-secondary readers.

Galactic Adventures: First Kids in Space

Galactic Adventures: First Kids in Space, Tristan Bancks
UQP 2011
ISBN: 9780702238697

Available from good bookstores, or online from Fishpond.