Cosmic Odyssey Scholarship logo
The Cosmic Odyssey Scholarship is a creation of Niko Blanks with support from Yuri’s Night and the Austin Hatcher Foundation for Pediatric Cancer. 
Our goal is to send pediatric cancer patients, survivors, and family members on an incredible trip to U.S. Space Camp in Huntsville, AL!

We are currently accepting applications for our first cohort of participants!

Cancer patients, survivors, and families can apply for a chance to take trip to a special
 Family Space Camp Weekend on July 2-4, 2021 or Aug 13-15, 2021.

Niko’s story

Nikolas Blanks’ love of space began at age 4 with a viewing of the iconic space movie Apollo 13 with his grandfather, Lee Akers. He later developed an inoperable brain tumor which required treatment to stabilize and contain. With the support of the Austin Hatcher Foundation for Pediatric Cancer, Niko successfully completed his cancer treatment. Afterwards, Niko wondered if he would be able to realize his dream of spaceflight–did he still have ‘the right stuff’ after battling cancer?  To find out, Niko attended U.S. Space Camp in Huntsville, AL. The experience renewed his confidence and passion for aerospace. He returned to camp three more times, including a week of Elite Space Academy where a new Mars mission simulation was first used. That session was filmed for the 2017 documentary The Mars Generation (available on Netflix). Following his experience at Space Camp, Niko enrolled at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, FL, where he is currently studying Spaceflight Operations. He also works as a Research Assistant in the ERAU Spacesuit Utilization of Innovative Technology Laboratory (S.U.I.T. Lab). In 2020,  he served as Cheif Engineer on the Sensoria M3 lunar simulation mission at the HI-SEAS habitat in Hawaii. During an eight week SpaceKind training with Yuri’s Night co-founder Loretta Whitesides in 2020, Niko expressed his desire to ‘pay it forward’ and create the opportunity for someone else impacted by pediatric cancer to have the same life-changing experience he did by attending Space Camp. Yuri’s Night and the Austin Hatcher Foundation for Pediatric Cancer are working together to make that happen in 2021!

With your help, we will send a family to a special weekend session of Space Camp in 2021!

Niko in a space station simulator at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex during Yuri's Night 2019.

Going [to Space Camp] motivated me to be the best person that I could be and use my passion for space in the best way that I could. I think for a lot of people it has had the same effect on them. Whether they end up going into the space industry or not, or become astronauts, people that attend space camp are changed forever.

Niko Blanks