Posts Tagged ‘space’

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

November 17, 2014

 

image

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. 

 

Advertisements

For Folks Under Age 45, Moon Walking is Something You Read About in a History Book

January 31, 2014
AStronaut Buzz Aldrin walking on the Moon.  (NASA Photo)

Astronaut Buzz Aldrin walking on the Moon. (NASA Photo)

I just read a story in the Richmond-Times Dispatch about the Smithsonian’s new $79 million dollar conservation hanger at the National Air and Space Museum at Dulles International Airport,  where among its many artifacts that are being prepared for conservation are Apollo-era spacesuits.  Those spacesuits are now 40 and 50 years old. They are fragile, brittle and deteriorating.  Conservators are working on ways to slow the decay.

It made me reflect on the fact that the incredible act of putting a man on the  Moon is a historic event.  America put 12 men on the Moon between 1969 and 1972, and then stopped.  No man has set foot on Earth’s natural satellite since December, 1972.

China, the 3rd country to successfully conduct a soft moon landing – the U.S. and the former Soviet Union being the first two –  safely landed a robot called Jade Rabbit on the moon in December and it has sent back scientific information, but it has suffered a mechanical problem and could stop working.  The robotic rover was named Jade Rabbit after the Chinese mythical rabbit that was said to have lived on the moon.

How well I remember that first Moon landing in 1969.  I was working at WIS-TV in Columbia, South Carolina. My son Rick, a small boy at the time,  and my late wife Judy, and I could look out our den window and see the bright full Moon as we watched the lunar landing on TV.  We had just bought our first color set to see it in color. It was telecast in black and white.  Still, we then had a color TV to enjoy for many years.

Rick was ten years old at the time, so he can remember the event, so it’s not just history to him.  But, it is just history for anyone over 45-years-old.

Will any country put a man on the Moon in the future?  It’s possible, but with sophisticated robots to give us scientific information about it, why spend all that money and risk human life?  Space exploration continues, but it’s a robot’s game.  Who would want to spend the 150 to 300 days in a small space ship it would take to get to Mars?  That’s what it has taken for the different spacecraft that have made the trip over the last 50 years.

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.

CSU Scientists Go Around the World to Capture Transit of Venus

May 28, 2012

 News release from Columbus State University

COLUMBUS, Ga. — Partnering with NASA, researchers from Columbus State University’s Coca-Cola Space Science Center are traveling to Mongolia and Australia this week to get the best possible images of Venus passing between the Earth and the sun, a celestial event that won’t occur again for another 105 years.

 Space science center staff will be teaching and watching the skies at a middle school near Alice Springs in Australia, working from a tent city in Mongolia’s Gobi Desert, and also stationed in Utah and at home in Columbus to photograph, video and webcast Venus as it moves across the face of the sun in an event that astronomers call a transit. The 2012 Transit of Venus will last nearly seven hours from June 5-6, providing extraordinary viewing opportunities for observers around the world, said Shawn Cruzen, executive director of the center and a Columbus State University astronomy professor.

 “For astronomy fans, this is a once-in-a-lifetime event,” Cruzen said. “Unfortunately audiences in the continental United States will only be able to see a portion of the transit as the sun sets in the west. An additional limitation in viewing the sun is the danger posed to the naked eye. Special equipment and techniques are required to create a safe observing environment.”

 In an effort to make this event more accessible to the public, Columbus State University’s Coca-Cola Space Science Center has partnered with NASA and the International Space School Education Trust to provide a multi-continent webcast of the 2012 Transit of Venus. The space science center is believed to be the only university-affiliated institution partnering with NASA to provide images from remote locations for its webcast. 

Audiences throughout the world will have an opportunity to experience the event safely via the Internet and NASA TV. Using private funds, Coca-Cola Space Science Center teams are traveling to Mongolia and to a school in the Australian outback near Alice Springs to be in optimal observation sites to acquire images and video of the entire transit. 

The team going to Australia left Sunday and are not only going to record the transit, but  will be part of an extensive outreach effort, teaching and lecturing about the transitand other related astronomy topics to hundreds of local schoolchildren. They are also scheduled to be interviewed by a national television station. 

The team going to Mongolia leaves June 2. They will spend about 18 hours in the air before arriving in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia and trekking to their camp. The expedition is being led by a team that includes a former space shuttle commander and a former astronaut trainer and will also include extensive leadership training, team-building and communication exercises. 

Both teams are soliciting questions about the event from students around the world and posting answers, videos and updates on a blog at http://ccsscvenustransit2012.blogspot.com.

 In addition to the teams traveling to the other side of the globe to record the transit, one team will remain in Georgia to provide local images and video of the event. A Columbus State University student, Katherine Lodder, will provide yet another set of U.S. images from Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah. Other Columbus State University students involved in the effort will be behind the scenes working on the computers to coordinate images and the webcast. 

Experts caution that the only safe ways to view the Transit of Venus will be through a solar-filtered telescope, a rear-projection screen, welding glasses (No. 14 or above) or a live webcast such as that being staged by NASA and CSU’s center. In Georgia, on Tuesday, June 5, the transit will be viewable starting at about 6 p.m., continuing until sunset. CSU staffers stationed in Mongolia and Australia will be able to view and record the entire seven-hour event, continuing into Wednesday, June 6.

“Literally, we want geographically disparate sites so we don’t get clouded out,” Cruzen said.

They will send images back to the Coca-Cola Space Science Center at 701 Front Ave. in downtown Columbus, which will be open for visitors to see pictures and videos of the transit from 5:30-11 p.m. June 5.

 Historians have traced interest in the Transit of Venus to ancient civilizations, but scientists began focusing on the planet’s movements starting in the 18th Century as a means of determining the size of the Earth’s solar system.

“Today, we know the size of the solar system,” Cruzen said. “But now, it can inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers.”

The three continental teams capturing the transit will be equipped with hydrogen alpha, calcium K-line, and solar white light filters that will allow for spectacular imaging of this event. These filters are provided by the center’s Mead Observatory, where they are used regularly to obtain images and animations of solar phenomena such as sunspots, flares, plages, faculae, prominences, and filaments. Typically, students from Columbus State study these solar phenomena to better understand the sun’s cycle of activity and its interaction with the Earth. However, during the Transit of Venus, these solar features will become, for one final period in our lives, the stunning backdrop against whichVenus’ planetary disk will cross the sun’s 865,000-mile face.

View the webcast by visiting http://www.ccssc.org/transit2012.html or by linking through the NASA partners page at NASA’s Sun Earth Day website,http://sunearthday.nasa.gov.

 

My Trip to Mars

February 7, 2012

"Mars Control"

It was me serving as communication’s officer on the space ship heading for Mars, and my old friend and venerable retired music educator Dr. George Corradino serving as my counterpart on the planet.  We were assigned that position as we participated in the Challenger Learning Center Mars Mission.  We got to press the mike button and pass along important travel instructions and end our messages with phrases like “over’ and “over and out.” 

"Mars Transport Vehicle"

 It was all part of a program for Coca-Cola Space Science Center Members. About 30 of us flew the mission just like sixth grade school kids do every year.  It was  more than instructional. It was a lot fun.  The instructors at CCSSC are really good at their jobs,  and I can see how the school kids would love participating in the space missions. I recommend it to anyone interested in the wonders of the universe.

"Mars Transport Vehicle"

 The universe is fascinating place, and though a lot has been learned about the plants, galaxies, black holes, and stars, a lot continues to be learned because there is so much we still don’t know.  I can’t think of a more enjoyable way of learning about it than at the Coca-Cola Space Science Center.   The Omnispehere, a world-class, state-of-the-art planetarium, alone is worth a trip, but I would also recommend the space travel missions, also, especially for the kids.

I’m just about to renew my membership because it’s a bargain, with special privileges and special events, and because the CCSSC deserves the community’s support. You Can learn all about it by clicking ont his link.

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.

So Long to Buck Rogers, Flash Gordon, and Luke Skywalker

July 17, 2011

STS-135 Mission Specialist Sandy Magnus, in zero gravity,enjoys the panoramic views provided by the multi-windowed Cupola aboard the International Space Station. Photo credit: NASA

The final shuttle launch got a lot of coverage, but then it stopped. To find out  about  what’s going on aboard the International Space Station, I’ve called up NASA on the internet. The transferring of supplies that Atlantis brought up on its final flight is over, and the transfer of items from the space station to the shuttle is almost over, and Atlantis will be heading back with that in a couple of days.  I must admit that the news is not very exciting. And, frankly, I hope it doesn’t get exciting because that would mean the shuttle would be in trouble.  No doubt when it touches down, that will be covered because that will signal the end of the program, and perhaps the Space Age. .

And, really, it’s time for the shuttle program to end.  The shuttles never really lived up to their early advertising. As the Economist says, “The shuttle was supposed to have been a truck that would make the business of putting people into orbit quotidian. Instead it has been nothing but trouble. Twice it’s killed its crew.” It has also been extremely expensive.

The magazine says the Space Age is over. That inner space, though, is useful with its satellites that provide weather information, telecommunications, and incredible cameras that have revolutionized a lot of things, including warfare. “No power can mobilize its armed forces in secret. The exact location of every building on the planet is known.”

The reason for the race to the moon has gone. What sent us there was to beat the Soviet Union there because of military considerations. The states of the world are not vying for military advantage in space any more. They are cooperating with one another to explore space. Just take the space station as an example.  No one country owns it and a lot are contributing to its cost, $100 billion.  But is it worth it? It must  not be  because it scheduled to be “de-orbited” in 2020. And you really don’t find many people raising hell about that.  A lot think the money can be better spent on project to help people on Earth.

That doesn’t mean robots will stop exploring planets and asteroids. They will probably as long as governments are willing to pay for it. And private companies are working on providing commercial inner space rides, but only the very rich will be able to afford them.  Is the end of the Space Age a bad thing? Probably, if the scientific search for astronomical knowledge is abandoned. That’s probably unlikely because we are creatures of curiosity and some of us never stop asking what’s it all about and will continue to try to find out.

Meanwhile, NASA is saying the Space Age is not  over.  It still  plans to send humans into deep space, meybe not the moon, because there is no need to do that again.  You can check out what NASA plans by clicking on this link.

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 Endeavour Night Launch Reminds Me of the Night Launch I Saw 38 Years Ago

February 15, 2010

Endeavour crew space-walks to work on the International Space Station (NASA photo)

 

As I follow the news from NASA about the space shuttle Endeavour mission, which marked the last night launch of the shuttle program,  I remember the only space shot I witnessed at the Kennedy Space Center.  Ledger-Enquirer photographer and friend Lawrence Smith offered me a ride on a friend’s airplane to witness the night launch of Apollo 17.  Armed with my WRBL-TV 16 mm movie camera and my own still camera, I joined Lawrence and his friend and another man to take off from Columbus on the morning of December 6, 1972, . It was an interesting ride because we had to fly around a lot of thunder storms.  It was worth the excitement to see the first night Apollo launch, which also happened to be the last time Americans went to the moon.  

On December 7th, 1972, at 12:33 a.m. , Apollo 17 launches and heads for the moon. (NASA photo)

 

The pictures that the astronauts sent back on the way and on the moon were spectacular.  

Eugene Cernan walks on the moon (NASA photo)

 

Up until recently, there were plans for America to go to the moon again.  That idea has been scuttled, I’m told.  Americans were supportive of the moon shots almost 40 years ago, but priorities have changed, and unless there is some catastrophic accident, space shots get little publicity.  Save Space, a Florida website, is trying to get people to write Congress to save the space flight program.  It points out what the space program has given the world. 

“Satellite communications, microwaves, cellular phones, miniaturized computers, pacemakers, kidney dialysis, scratch-resistant lenses, medical and sports technology, adjustable smoke detectors, cordless tools, and water filters are just a few examples of the advances that have occurred through NASA space research. Not to mention the entrepreneurs, jobs, and commercial aspects of many space research spin-offs.” 

Wikipedia says this is probably the most reproduced picture in the world. It is earth as seen from the space craft Apollo 17 five hours after lift-off on December 7, 1972. It's called "The Blue Marble." (NASA photo)