For any kid who's stared into the night sky and dreamed of orbiting the earth, Space Camp is the perfect experience. For female astronaut, Andie (Kate Capshaw) it's a poor substitute for the real thing.
Passed up by NASA for their next mission, Andie's consolation prize is spending the summer putting pint-sized travelers through their paces at space camp with her husband Zach (Tom Sherritt). Assigned to her group is Kathryn (Lea Thompson), an intense intellectual whose plan to be the first woman shuttle commander sends her jockeying for leadership of the other team members, Tish, Rudy and Max, an under-aged tag-a-long. Joining the group by design is Kevin Donaldson (Tate Donovan), a spoiled playboy who conceded to the camp in exchange for a new Jeep from dad. He plans to put in his time and nothing else.
Under the tutelage and stern eye of their mentor, the students play astronaut, practice simulated flight patterns and boggle their emergency landing procedure. When the unruly gang is chosen for an unexpected field trip--the chance to sit in the shuttle's cockpit during an engine test fire-- they are accidentally blasted into orbit by a solid rocket malfunction. (This is where the story gets a little hokey.) Devoid of long range radio contact and outfitted with a limited supply of oxygen, this rag-bag of amateurs must use their newly-acquired skills, creativity and teamwork to make it back to Earth while NASA officials watch and wait.
The ofttimes simplistic solutions for the crew of Space Camp may seem insipid to young viewers fed action flics, but this light-hearted, galactic outing does portray teens as smart, capable and inventive when the need arises, qualities frequently missing in recent movies.
Scheduled for release in early 1986, the debut of this space adventure was delayed following the real-life Challenger shuttle disaster on January 28. But for an aspiring astronaut too young to remember the shadow of that event, Space Camp offers a fun way to kick back and space out.