Posts Tagged ‘NASA’

Space Science Center Works to Display Shuttle Prototype and to Affiliate with Smithsonian

November 17, 2014

 

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The relatively new whitewater experience in downtown Columbus has impressively increased the number of tourists visiting the Columbus area.  Hundreds of thousands were already coming because of the National Infantry Museum,  the National Civil War Naval Museum, and the Columbus State University Coca-Cola Space Science Center.  And now, the Coca-Cola Space Science Center could be on the verge of making Columbus an even greater national tourist destination.

CCSSC Executive Director Dr. Shawn Cruzen told members of the Rotary Club of Columbus that adding the 1/4 scale model space shuttle to the center’s museum and affiliating with the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. will make the CCSSC an even greater tourist attraction, as well as enhance the educational aspects of the facility.

Dr. Cruzen told me that the space shuttle model played a large role in the development of the space shuttle. It was used as a testing prototype.  Developers of the shuttle had to know if the three elements involved in the launching of the shuttle, the main rocket, it’s attached fuel tank, and the shuttle, could withstand the violent vibrations that would  happen during a launch. They found out by submitting the prototype to those vibrations created by a machine. That makes the prototype, a $9.3 million gift of NASA’s to CCSSC, a highly valuable historical artifact.

However, it will take an estimated $2 million to modify the CCSSC building to display it.  As part of the efffort to raise the funds,  the center brought Dr. Valerie Neal, Director of the “Space History Division” of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, to Columbus to speak at fund-raising events. She was also scheduled to speak to the Rotary Club of Columbus, but commercial flight problems caused her to miss that; However, Dr. Cruzen and Mary Johnson,  Assistant Executive Director of CCSSC,  impressively substituted for her, in my view. Their presentations were well-received by the audience.

The CCSSC will do what it takes to make the affiliation application to the Smithsonian  next year, and has a goal of achieving affiliation in 2016.  There are all sorts of educational and promotional benefits in becoming an  Smithsonian affiliate, including use of artifacts and bringing Smithsonian experts to Columbus to speak.

I hope Columbus leaders will give full support to this initiative.  The Coca-Cola Space Science Center is a valuable asset for the area.  Shows in the world-class Omnisphere planetarium alone are worth a visit, thanks to the creativity and skills of its director, Lance Tankersley. 

 

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Arrival of Space Shuttle Nozzle Signals Museum Status for the Coca-Cola Space Science Center

July 22, 2012

Just as we told you it would in the previous post, the space shuttle nozzle arrived Friday at the Coca-Cola Space Science Center. 

A police escort announced the arrival at the Coca-Cola Space Science Center by activating a siren.   Center staff members, who had earlier in the day participated in a presentation ceremony at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center at Huntsville, Alabama,  rode on the trailer that carried the shuttle nozzle when it pulled into the Science Center.  They actually rode in a CSU bus to Huntsville and back. 

There was a big welcoming ceremony under a tent that featured a number of speakers, including Congressman Sanford Bishop who got a huge hand for his role in making the acquisition of the nozzle possible.

Dr. Shawn Cruzen, Director of the Coca-Cola Space Science Center said the learning Center is now taking on the role of also being a museum. That $15 million nozzle is a good start.

$15 Million NASA Artifact to Arrive in Columbus Friday

July 17, 2012

NEWS RELEASE FROM COLUMBUS STATE UNIVERSITY

A part of space exploration history is about to make Columbus, Georgia its home. The Space Shuttle’s main engine nozzle arrives here Friday in preparation of being placed on permanent display downtown at Columbus State University’s Coca-Cola Space Science Center.

To celebrate the arrival of the $15 million artifact, two free public ceremonies will take place as the nozzle travels by trailer Friday morning from NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in HuntsvilleAla., to Columbus. You can check out the nozzle at the following locations:

            Phenix City Intermediate School, 2401 South Railroad Street, Phenix City, AL

            6:30 p.m. – Nozzle arrival, ceremony, and photo opportunities

            Coca-Cola Space Science Center, 701 Front Avenue, Columbus, GA 31901
            7:00 p.m. – Outdoor entertainment & refreshments
            7:45 p.m. – Nozzle arrival, ceremony, & photo opportunities

That the nozzle – designated as an artifact for CSU’s Coca-Cola Space Science Center – reaches Columbus on July 20 is not by accident. It was scheduled that day to coincide with the 43rd anniversary of man’s first walk on the moon. 

“Just as Apollo 11 marked the beginning of a new era of exploration, Friday’s NASA artifact transfer marks an important paradigm shift for the Space Science Center,” said Mary Johnson, assistant director of the center. “With the arrival of these historical additions to the center, the center’s tourism value, the impact within the Columbus community, throughout the region and state, will be significantly enhanced, as will the center’s ability to continue to provide innovative and unique opportunities for inquiry-based STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) education.”

The artifact to be on display has flown to space nine times and on all four of the shuttles in service during its lifetime – Atlantis (3), Discovery (2), Endeavour (1) and Columbia (3). It was involved in 39 total engine starts – 24 for development and testing, three for engine certification, and 12 actual launch-pad firings, including a flight readiness firing before Endeavour’s maiden voyage and two launch-pad aborts.  The overall engine burn time on this nozzle is more than five hours and 16 minutes, a “truly phenomenal statistic considering it only takes the shuttle about 8 minutes to get to space,” said Shawn Cruzen, director of theCoca-Cola Space Science Center and a CSU professor of astronomy.

The nozzle is the largest of CSU’s Space Science Center’s nearly $20 million in artifacts.

Thanks to the Coca-Cola Space Science Center for Great Service to Columbus Seniors

October 17, 2011

After last week’s Coca-Cola Space Science Center C.A.L.L. class on America’s putting men on the moon, I went up to instructor Scott Norman, shown above, who  is Director of the Challenger Center for the CCSSC, and told him that his presentation was superb – it definitely was – and recalled my experience of watching the first moon landing on TV.

On July  20, 1969, my wife Judy, ten-year-old son Rick, one of his buddies, and I were sitting in our den in our home in Columbia, South Carolina – I was working for WIS-TV at the time – watching breathlessly as Neil Armstrong       stepped onto the surface of the Moon.  At the same time that we were watching this live TV coverage, we could look through our sliding glass doors and see the Moon.  This was probably the most spectacular TV show ever. I can’t think of anything that tops it.

Scott Norman and CCSSC Director Shawn Cruzen are two of the best teachers I have ever had. They are inventive, creative, humorous, and stay on the move as they use Power Point, videos and even hand-held models to hold interest and impart tons of information. The secret of their success is simply that they are totally passionate about their subject.

This quarter Scott is teaching “The History of Space” to a bunch of seniors like me who participate in the Columbus Academy Lifelong Learning program at the CSU Elizabeth Bradley Turner Center for Continuing Education.

The course deals with the development of the space programs in the United States and the Soviet Union, and now Russia, that started back in 1957 when the USSR launched Sputnik.  It continues right up until now, a time when the United States has to depend on Russia to provide rides to the International Space Station because the U.S. space shuttle program ended recently.

It is truly a dramatic subject, with upbeat highlights like our Apollo Moon exploration program that put men on the Moon, and with the tragic lows of losing lives to a fire in a space capsule training mission, and, later, exploding shuttles.  It is a very exhilarating, but extremely dangerous business.

Thanks to all of the great folks at the Coca-Cola Space Science Center for the truly compelling and entertaining classes you are supplying seniors of our area who know that a vital part of living is learning, something  one should never stop doing.

The class continues Thursday. Circumstances permitting, I’ll definately be there.

Moon Orbiting Astronaut Al Worden Pans the Space Shuttle Program

January 28, 2011

1971 NASA photo of astronaut Al Worden Speaking in the Omnisphere Theater at the Coca-Coal Space Science Center,  the man who orbited the moon in 1971, didn’t have much positive to say about the U.S. Space Shuttle.  “It’s a dangerous vehicle,” he told the audience on the eve of the anniversary of the 1986 Challenger disaster that took the lives of 7 United States astronauts. 

He did say, however, that if the shuttle had been successful in its original mission it would have been good.  The original mission was to provide a low-cost shuttle back and forth to the International Space Station, but the cost skyrocketed, and if the Apollo program had been continued it would have cost a lot less.

After his talk, I asked him if there was anything positive about the Shuttle. He said there were some things. For one, it put the Hubble Space Telescope into orbit.

“Should we put a man on the moon again?”

“I don’t care,” was his response.

“In other words, we shouldn’t.”

“No. The moon is nothing.”

He added that he thought we should go beyond the moon. 

A lady interjected, “Wouldn’t the moon be a good platform to launch further space exploration?”

He didn’t think it was necessary.  

He does support NASA and  the continuing exploration of outer space.   He was invited by the Coca-Cola Space and Science Center to participate in commemorating and honoring the legacy of bravery and dedication to space exploration by the crew of the Challenger Shuttle that blew up in January of 1986.

I have to admit it was somewhat special to meet and chat with a man who had orbited the moon.  He was friendly and willing to answer any questions about his experiences. He was the Apollo 15 Command Module Pilot. As David Scott and Jim Irwin explored the surface of the moon, Col. (ret.) Worden orbited the moon alone for three days in the command ship “Endeavour.”  On the trip back to earth, Worden took the furthest deep space walk, moving along the outside of “Endeavour” to retrieve film from two moon-mapping cameras.

He said the most exciting moment about the trip to the moon was when the Endeavour rotated around and he saw the moon looming large.  “We hadn’t seen the moon for 20 hours,” he said, pointing out that they were flying backwards to the moon so they didn’t see it until they were almost there. 

He had high praise for the Coca-Cola Space Science Center, praise that I echo.  It is truly a great place to learn about astronomy and space travel.  If you are really into those things, you might want to do what I just did and become a member of the Center.  The Center’s Executive Director Shawm Cruzen puts it this way:  “You can join in on the mission. Support the future of science education. Help inspire the next generation of space explorers. Become a member of CSU’s Coca-Cola Space Science Center.”

   

The Columbus Connection to the First and Last Moon Shots

February 16, 2010

I WAS  AT KENNEDY SPACE CENTER  WHEN THE LAST MOON SHOT WAS LAUNCHED,  AND MILTON JONES WAS THERE FOR THE FIRST ONE.

 Georgia state legislator and retired Columbus lawyer, Milton Jones, a friend of mine, was reminded by my post on my visit to the Kennedy Space Center for the launch of Apollo 17 in 1972, that he and his family went down for the Apollo 11 launch.  Here is what he emailed to me.

Apollo 11 liftoff, July 16, 1969, Kennedy Space Center, FL (NASA photo)

Enjoyed your article on the Apollo 17 space shot.

It’s interesting that you went to the last “man to the moon” mission.  Two other couples and Jeanette and I carried our 11 children to Apollo 11 in July of 1969.  That was the mission, of course, which first landed men on the moon.  Jack Brinkley was in Congress then, and he and I were (and still are) close friends.  He got us passes to the VIP viewing area.  It was one of those experiences you will never forget, as I am sure is also true with you.  I could not get over the noise, which really surpassed noise it was so loud, and more of a roaring all encompassing vibration.

Lunar Module Commander Neil Armstrong, first man on the moon, is shown working outside the LM (NASA photo)

Buzz Aldrin, the second man on the moon, stepping onto the lunar surface (NASA photo)

Our kids are now adults, but they tell their children about watching man go to the moon.  I hate it that it appears that manned space flight is on the way out.  I believe in too many ways we are going backwards in our country and civilization.  A lot of wonderful progress in a lot of ways, but some retrograde, too, and in other very important ways.

Oh, well, just another example of my old man grousing.

Milton