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Monday, August 31, 2009

Starry Night on August 21

August 21 was the Cosmosphere's Starry Night party. It may well have been the First Annual Starry Night event because it was really cool.

About 900 people came to enjoy the festivities, which included a lengthy list of things. There were rockets, liquid oxygen ice cream, a moon walk, presentations and start gazing.

Thank you to our sponsors – Hutchinson Credit Union, YP of Reno County and Radio Kansas.

Martin Ratcliffe, a contributing editor to Astronomy magazine spoke to the crowd about what they could see in the night sky. We’re so very appreciative of the astronomy experts who came out and brought their telescopes to share with folks.

Kids could build and launch air rockets. That was a popular spot.

There were also rocket demonstrations. There must have been 60 kids running after the rockets as they were setting them off.

People lined up at the various telescopes after dark to get an up-close view of the night sky. It was a great time to see Jupiter.

Thanks to everyone for coming out. It seemed everyone was having fun.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Coffee at the Cosmo - How Pop Culture was Affected by Space Exploration

Coffee at the Cosmo on Thursday, August 20, will be about how Pop Culture was affected by the space program. The presentation will be at 9 a.m. at the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center and is free and open to the public. Coffee and pastries will be served.

Cosmosphere CEO and Director Chris Orwoll will discuss America and the world's fascination with space travel, the space program and the eventual "spin-offs" with the imaginative efforts of the science fiction community and the entertainment that was created as a result.

Here are just a few of the artifacts you'll see:

- Lunchboxes from 1950's to recent
- Tang related promotional products surrounding the drink's use on space missions
- Soviet-era Soyuz chess set
- Tin toys made in Japan to commemorate Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo
- Apollo commemorative dog toys
- G.I. Joe and Barbie space paraphernalia

Those attending will have an opportunity for a close-up look at the artifacts, and time to ask questions.

Coffee at the Cosmo is every Third Thursday at 9 a.m., and is free to the public. If you can't attend in person this month, it will be online live at www.cosmo.org/webcast.htm.

The Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center is a non-profit organization dedicated to enhancing patrons' knowledge of space exploration. Educating people from around the globe, the Cosmosphere boasts the Hall of Space museum, one of the most significant collections of U.S. and Russian space artifacts in the world; the Justice Planetarium, a dome-shaped classroom where attendees learn about astronomy; Dr. Goddard's Lab, a live demonstration of early rocket technology; the Carey IMAX® Dome Theater, the 12th IMAX® theater built in the world; and summer astronaut training camps. For more information visit www.cosmo.org.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Discovery Crew from Maiden Flight at Cosmosphere on August 22

On August 22, the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center is celebrating the 25th anniversary of STS-41-D, the first mission for the space shuttle Discovery, which is the oldest orbiter in NASA’s fleet. To honor this milestone, most of the surviving astronauts from that mission are scheduled to be at the Cosmosphere for a roundtable discussion at 2 p.m. that afternoon including Mission Specialist Steven Hawley, Kansas native and current professor of Astronomy and Physics at the University of Kansas, Payload Specialist Charles Walker, currently with McDonnell Douglas, Commander Henry Hartsfield Jr. and Pilot Michael Coats, Director of Johnson Space Center. It is free and open to the public. Following the presentation they will sign autographs from 3 – 4:30, and then attend a reception with Cosmosphere Premium members at 5 p.m. Of note, the attendance of Michael Coats is dependent upon shuttle launch operations based on his responsibilities as Director of Johnson Space Center

The launch of Discovery on August 30, 1984, was the 12th shuttle mission. Discovery was the third orbiter built and the lightest one because of the thermal blanket material used. The launch had been delayed for two months, causing cancellation of another mission scheduled after it. The payload from that mission was included on the STS-41-D mission, bringing the cargo weight up to 47,000 pounds, a shuttle record at that time.

The six-person flight crew consisted of Henry W. Hartsfield Jr., Commander, making his second mission; Pilot Michael L. Coats; three Mission Specialists: — Judith A. Resnik, Richard M. “Mike” Mullane and Steven A. Hawley; and a Payload Specialist, Charles D. Walker, an employee of the McDonnell Douglas Corporation. Walker was the first commercially-sponsored Payload Specialist to fly aboard the shuttle.

The primary cargo was three communications satellites, including the first large communications satellite designed specifically to be deployed from the space shuttle. All three satellites were deployed successfully and became operational.
Another payload was a solar array carrying a number of different types of experimental solar cells. It was extended to its full height several times - the largest structure ever extended from a manned spacecraft. It demonstrated the feasibility of using large lightweight solar arrays in the future, including at the space station.

The STS-41-D mission also included the first use of the IMAX® camera in space. Highlights of the mission were used in the wildly popular movie The Dream is Alive. The mission lasted 6 days, 56 minutes, returning on September 5, having traveled 2.21 million miles.

Greece: Secrets of the Past Opens at IMAX on Aug. 14

The Cosmosphere is premiering a new IMAX film on August 14. "Greece: Secrets of the Past" is a sweeping journey back in time to discover the buried secrets of one of the world's most enlightened societies – Ancient Greece. For 100 years, from 500 BC to 400 BC, Greece was the center of human thought and creativity, and laid the foundations for the way we live today.

"Greece: Secrets of the Past" will show at 1 and 3 p.m. every day, with a morning showing at 11 Monday through Saturday and later showings at 5 and 7 on Friday and Saturday nights. The film's narrator is Greek-American Nia Vardalos, writer and star of the hit, "My Big Fat Greek Wedding," for which she received an Oscar nomination.

At the center of the film is Dr. Christos Doumas, an impassioned Greek archeologist who is working feverishly to piece together the puzzle of ancient Greece and better understand its influence on life today. He weaves a compelling story about how archeology has unearthed the ways in which the early Greek's rapid progress in science, politics, philosophy, sports and art resulted in perhaps the greatest explosion in human advancement ever seen.

Ancient Greece gave us the concept of democracy itself, which evolved in fifth century Athens. The Greeks also created the Olympic games, the beginnings of modern theatre and entertainment, as well as the study of mathematics, physics, architecture, biology, zoology, politics and ethics.

"Because ancient Greece is where many of our own ideas about democracy, human achievement and freedom were first born, it is more important to us than ever," says producer/director Greg MacGillivray, an Academy Award nominated film maker. "Our film is like a form of time travel – we go back to figure out what happened and why. Audiences will have the change to explore archeological ruins, sift through volcanic sands, and examine thought-provoking legends for clues to how the Greeks lives and perishes. Most of all, I hope the film leaves audiences with a sense of the profound lessons the classical Greeks left behind for today's world."

"Greece: Secrets of the Past" is a modern detective story and an archeological journey into the distant past. It offers a new perspective on an age of universal importance to us all.

Photo Exhibit Never Before Seen in US now at Cosmosphere

The Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center is hosting, "Reflections: Images of Apollo," a unique photo exhibit from Space Collector, Leslie Cantwell. This is the first time these inscribed photographs have been seen in the United States.

Gathered personally by Mr. Cantwell, this exhibit features 100, large-scale, official NASA photographs inscribed by the astronauts and others involved with the missions. This is the largest collection of its kind, and the Cosmosphere is pleased to be chosen as the first place Cantwell has allowed to exhibit the photos in the US.

The collection includes not only autographs, but also lengthy inscriptions by many of the astronauts. Some capture funny exchanges that occurred at the time, others feature text from the great writers and poets throughout history, and some include descriptions of chilling moments of the space program.

It's rare to have even a signature from astronauts John Young, Buzz Aldrin or Michael Collins, but in this collection they have also written lengthy personal inscriptions on the photos. This collection is a tribute to the Apollo program and its extraordinary achievements.

In addition to those listed above, also included are photos signed by Alan Bean, Jim Lovell, Fred Haise, Harrison Schmitt, Gene Kranz, and Gene Cernan, as well as many others. Walter Cunningham, Lunar Module Pilot of Apollo 7, is quoted as saying, "These are rare and unique pictures from a unique time in the history of the world."

Cantwell's interest in the US Space program started in 1981 when he met moonwalker Jim Irwin in Germany. Irwin inscribed a photo of a man standing on the moon with the words, "with love from the moon." Cantwell put it aside, but when he rediscovered the photo 10 years later, it ignited an interest in this history and he began pursuing other photos.

The decision to combine the 16" X 20" photos with handwritten text from those involved takes the photo beyond visual art. Cantwell is preserving an important part of our history like no one else has and is promoting the achievements of the American space program to a new generation.

The original photographs are on display at the Cosmosphere in the rotunda.