Inaugural Space Festival prepares for flight

Inaugural Space Festival prepares for flight

1131
SHARE

A replica of Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo will be on display at Las Cruces City Hall during the Space Festival. Here the replica is shown at its home in the Gateway to Space Building at Spaceport America.

A replica of Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo will be on display at Las Cruces City Hall during the Space Festival. Here the replica is shown at its home in the Gateway to Space Building at Spaceport America.
Involving everyone in the excitement of space exploration and its history in southern New Mexico is what organizers hope to achieve with the first Las Cruces Space Festival.
The festival lifts off Thursday-Saturday, April 12-14, at three Las Cruces locations with the theme, “Making Space for Everyone.”
Organizer Dawn Starostka, regional director of Big Brothers Big Sisters, hopes the festival inspires area youth.
“These kids are the right age to go to Mars someday,” Starostka said. “I want them to see they can be passionate about the roles they might have in space – medical, engineering, astronauts.”
She says there is more space industry-related activity in the region than people realize.
“There are so many companies that have something to do with the space industry here,” Starostka said.
No proper New Mexico space festival could fly without Spaceport America’s involvement. Spaceport America Business Development Specialist Susan Raitt says there will be tours to the spaceport and the facility will participate in Friday and Saturday events in town.
“We are really excited,” Raitt said. “I think it’s really educating the public on how space affects our area.”
The festival, developed and run by volunteers, has three parts.
Thursday, April 12, is the day of “Celebration,” with events geared toward children and families in celebration of the anniversary of human space flight. Yuri’s Night, observed worldwide since 2001, marks the date when the USSR launched Yuri Gagarin into a single orbit around the Earth in 1961. Events take place on the New Mexico State University campus, including an evening organized for youth by New Mexico State University’s Women in STEM (WiSTEM), a mobile planetarium and a Tech Center flight simulation specifically tailored to space travel.
Friday, April 13, is the day of “Raising Awareness.” Representatives from NASA White Sands Test Facility, Spaceport America, Virgin Galactic, New Mexico Space History Museum, UTEP’s aerospace program, the Experimental Aircraft Association and others will conduct a Space Showcase at Mesilla Valley Mall.
The first two evenings include free space-themed movies at the Rio Grande Theatre on Main Street.
Saturday, April 14, is the day of “Entertainment” on Plaza de Las Cruces and nearby Downtown locations. Virgin Galactic will bring a full-sized replica of their suborbital SpaceShipTwo to Albert Johnson Park, adjacent to city hall. There will be hands-on activities provided by ¡explora!, Insights El Paso Science Center, Asombro and Cruces Creatives, among others. Experts from the Space Showcase will interact with attendees. The NMSU Atomic Aggies Rocket Club will display their competition rocket, New Mexico Space Grant will have their high-altitude weather balloon used to observe the recent solar eclipse. There will be Challenger Center Missions, a space pickleball game and a spacewalk in which participants are encouraged to dress in their best space or alien costumes.
KTAL Community Radio (101.5 FM) will broadcast features and interviews throughout the festival.
“We all benefit from space-related activity and innovations, including cell phones, GPS and weather tracking, just to name a few,” said Jonathan Firth of Virgin Galactic, one of the festival’s partners. “There is already much space-related activity in New Mexico, and it’s set to increase dramatically over the coming years, especially with commercial space flights just around the corner.”
Visit www.lcspacefestival.com.

Elva K. Österreich may be reached at elva@lascrucesbulletin.com.

Space Festival events

Thursday, April 12
1-4 p.m. Space Discovery Afternoon at NMSU’s International Mall and O’Donnell Hall
1-2 p.m. Solar Observations with NMSU Astronomy Department
2-3 p.m. Space Talk with Sean Sellers, graduate student
3-4 p.m. Space Science Demonstration, “How Comets form”
3-7 p.m. Planetarium open
3-7 p.m. TECH center missions flying every 25 minutes.
5-10:30 p.m. Yuri’s Kids Evening at O’Donnell Hall and Tombaugh Observatory
5-7 p.m. Water Bottle Rockets with NMSU WiSTEM
6-8 p.m. Mars Mission at the Challenger Learning Center; free, registration required
7 p.m. Free movie at Rio Grande Theatre, “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”
7:30 p.m. Space Quiz at the Game Sports Bar and Grill
8:30-10:30 p.m. Star Gazing with NMSU Astronomy Department

Friday, April 13
Noon-6 p.m. Space Showcase at Mesilla Valley Mall
5:30 p.m. Space Talk at Hotel Encanto de Las Cruces with Suzie Imber on “My Passion for Space Science”
6-8 p.m. Mars Mission at the Challenger Learning Center; free, registration required
6:30 p.m. Space Talk at Hotel Encanto de Las Cruces with Alires Almon on “The Journey to Interstellar: What will it take to get humanity to another star system?”
7 p.m. Free movie at Rio Grande Theatre, “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”

Saturday, April 14
11 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Mars Mission at the Challenger Learning Center; free, registration required
Noon Free movie at Rio Grande Theatre, “Toy Story”
12:30-1:30 p.m. Space Talk at the Branigan Library with Suzie Imber on “My Passion for Space Science”
12:30-2:30 p.m. Author Loretta Hall at COAS Bookstore
2-2:45 p.m. Challenger Learning Center Open House
2-8 p.m. Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo Replica at City Hall
3-5:30 p.m. Mars Mission at the Challenger Learning Center; free, registration required
3:30 p.m. Space Walk on Main Street. Register at City Hall at 3 p.m., dress as your favorite space character real or fictional, human or alien
4-8 p.m. Making Space for Everyone, with booths on Plaza de Las Cruces and Main Street

New Las Cruces community radio station KTAL-LP 101.5 FM will be celebrating Space Week in conjunction with the Las Cruces Space Festival which runs April 12-14. Beginning Monday April 9 through Friday April 13, KTAL will air special science programming from 11 a.m. – Noon each day.

On Saturday April 14, KTAL will broadcast live from the lobby of the Rio Grande Theater between 2:30p and 5:00p, when Festival activities will be on at the Plaza. It will be the first remote broadcast by KTAL and the public is invited to stop by and say hello over the air.

The daily programs will be hosted by Nan Rubin and Vince “Dr. Science” Gutschick and are being supported in part by a grant from the New Mexico Space Grant Consortium. Live and recorded guests will be scientists, researchers, educators and others involved with such topics as satellites; space exploration; and STEM education.

Invited guests include:
Dr. Abdessattar Abdelkefi – aerospace robotics and controls;
Dr. Nancy Chanover – planets and infrared imaging;
Dr. Jason Jackiewicz – solar seimsmology;
Dr. Isabella Mariotto – satellite remote sensing;
Dr. Jim Murphy – Mars climatology;
Dr. Beth O’Leary – Space Archeology;
Dr. Tom Schmugge – satellite remote sensing;
Dr. Junming Wang – remote sensing and ground-truthing.

NO COMMENTS

Comments are closed.