Astronaut Eileen Collins Gives Prime Time Address to Republican Convention

Eileen Collins was the first woman to command a Space Shuttle mission and the first astronaut to address a 2016 political convention. Her 4-minute address is above, pointing out that “nations that lead on the frontier lead in the world.”

Eric Berger, senior space editor at Ars Technica, blogged:

Here’s what Collins really missed on Wednesday night…. Probably the most exciting spaceflight development of the last decade or so has been the successful pursuit of reusable rockets by SpaceX and Blue Origin. This low-cost rocketry is what will ultimately make America greater in space…. The reality is that the best way to “lead on the frontier” in the 21st century is not through flags and footprints, but rather by sending people into space to stay, in a sustainable way, with the eventual aim of making space profitable.

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NSS Board Member Al Globus Provides Updates on Space Settlement Research

Al GlobusLast year National Space Society Board of Directors member Al Globus released three pre-prints that together suggested a radically easier path to space settlement. A major part of this is the discovery that space settlements in Low Earth Orbit very close to the equator (ELEO) will experience far less radiation than any other location—so little that dedicated shielding may be unnecessary. This massively reduces the mass of space settlement designs (roughly two orders of magnitude).

The paper focused on radiation has now been substantially revised incorporating information from a number of NCRP (National Council on Radiological Protection and Measurement) publications. The bottom line recommendations have not changed, however. This paper can be found at:

  • Orbital Space Settlement Radiation Shielding,” Al Globus and Joe Strout, preprint, June 2016. The major result of this paper is that settlements in low (~500 km) Earth equatorial orbits may not require any radiation shielding at all based on a careful analysis of requirements and extensive simulation of radiation effects. This radically reduces system mass and has profound implications for space settlement as extraterrestrial mining and manufacturing are no longer on the critical path to the first settlements, although they will be essential in later stages. It also means the first settlements can evolve from space stations, hotels, and retirement communities in relatively small steps.

These changes are also reflected in:

  • Space Settlement: An Easier Way,” by Al Globus, Stephen Covey, and Daniel Faber, June 2016 describes a relatively easy, incremental path to free space settlement by taking advantage of very low radiation levels in Equatorial Low Earth Orbit (ELEO) and higher rotation rates. Low levels of radiation in ELEO may permit settlements with little or no radiation shielding. Higher rotation rates permit much smaller settlements. Together this reduces settlement design mass by two to three orders of magnitude and places early settlements very close to Earth, radically reducing the difficulty of building the first space settlements and making launch from Earth practical. The mass model used in this paper is available here as an Excel spreadsheet.

For completeness, here is the third paper although there have been no revisions:

  • Space Settlement Population Rotation Tolerance,” Al Globus and Theodore Hall, preprint, June 2015. This paper reviews the literature to find that space settlement residents and visitors can tolerate at least four, and probably six, rotations per minute to achieve 1g of artificial gravity. This means settlements can be radically smaller, and thus easier to build, than previously believed.
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The National Space Society Applauds Alan Stern Winning the NASA Distinguished Public Service Medal

The National Space Society congratulates Dr. Alan Stern on winning the NASA Distinguished Public Service Medal. This award is the highest honor that NASA can bestow. NSS has also awarded one of our highest honors to Dr. Stern, the NSS Wernher von Braun Award, which he received at our International Space Development Conference last May in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Dr. Stern was Principal Investigator of NASA’s New Horizons mission to Pluto. “Leading New Horizons has been the greatest honor of my lifetime, but it’s important to recognize so many others who also contributed to the success of this mission,” said Stern. “I dedicate this award to the 2,500 men and women who worked so hard to build, launch, and fly New Horizons across the solar system to explore Pluto and its system of moons.”

Portrait of Dr. Alan Stern, associate vice president of the Space Science and Engineering Division at Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) and the Principal Investigator of NASA's New Horizons mission to Pluto. Image courtesy NASA/Bill Ingalls.

Portrait of Dr. Alan Stern, associate vice president of the Space Science and Engineering Division at Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) and the Principal Investigator of NASA’s New Horizons mission to Pluto. Image courtesy NASA/Bill Ingalls.

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National Space Society Applauds SpaceX Launch of IDA to the ISS and successful RTLS of the Falcon 9 First Stage

With a successful launch on July 18 at 12:45 AM EST, 2016 from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, SpaceX achieved several dramatic milestones on the Commercial Resupply Services 9 mission (CRS-9). In addition to supplies and experiments in the pressurized part of the Dragon, an unpressurized “trunk” houses the 1,028 lb (467 kilogram) International Docking Adaptor (IDA), manufactured by Boeing. The IDA, once attached to the International Space Station (ISS) will be the connecting point for Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner and SpaceX’s Crewed Dragon 2 spacecraft as they bring American astronauts to the ISS on American-built and operated vehicles for the first time since the end of the Space Shuttle program.

Experiments being lofted to the ISS by CRS-9 include a Biomolecule Sequencer that will attempt for the first time DNA sequencing in micro-gravity and a new type of heat exchanger being developed by NASA. CASIS/ISS National Laboratory projects include OsteoOmics, which will use magnetic levitation to increase our understanding of the bone loss that results from osteoporosis, and HeartCells, a study of the effects of microgravity on the human heart, which could improve treatments for heart disease on Earth.

“The CRS-9 delivery of IDA is on the critical path to our future in space,” said Dale Skran, NSS Executive Vice President. “SpaceX continues to break new ground in lowering the cost of going into space, and the return to launch site landing of the first stage is key to eventually lowering the cost of spaceflight. With the successful installation of IDA on the ISS, America will be ready for the next epoch of human spaceflight based on commercial vehicles.”

International Docking Adaptor

International Docking Adaptor (IDA) ready for installation in the Dragon trunk [courtesy NASA]

On June 19, 2016 Blue Origin re-used its sub-orbital New Shepard booster on a flight to the Karman line (the edge of space) for the fourth time and returned the rocket to its launch site for further re-use while demonstrating the reliability of the capsule parachute system in the case of a failed parachute. “Competition like that seen between Blue Origin and SpaceX is the key to rapid progress in space,” said Bruce Pittman, NSS Senior Vice President. “Today’s launch of IDA to the ISS and the successful RTLS [return to launch site] landing is a direct result of the competitive, commercial nature of CRS and Commercial Crew, and NSS advocates extending these types of programs into cis-lunar space.”

Lowering the cost of access to space is fundamental to NSS’s vision of our future there (see www.nss.org/settlement/roadmap) and today’s events have brought that future materially closer.

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The National Space Society Congratulates Boeing on 100 Years of Aerospace Excellence

The National Space Society (NSS) congratulates the Boeing Company on reaching its 100th anniversary, and doing so while continuing to be the world leader in the aerospace business.

Boeing

NSS acknowledges and greatly appreciates the tremendous role that Boeing and its heritage companies McDonnell Douglas, North American Aviation, Hughes, Jeppesen, and Stearman has played in the development of all U.S. human spacecraft that have ever flown: from Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo to the Space Shuttle and now the International Space Station.

Thanks to Boeing, humanity is now truly living and working in space.

But today – 50 years into the Space Age – the number of people living in space is still less than 10. The NSS vision is to see thousands and eventually millions of people living and working in thriving communities beyond the Earth, and harvesting the vast resources of space for the dramatic betterment of humanity.

NSS was therefore very happy to view the recent Boeing “You Just Wait” commercial (above), and to hear the words of Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg, who said Friday, “In another 100 years, we might make daily trips to space, fly across the globe in less than an hour, or receive unlimited clean power from solar satellites.” As the largest and oldest non-profit advocate for civil and commercial human spaceflight and space solar power, NSS believes that Boeing is up to the challenge and that all of these achievements will come to pass, and well before its 200th anniversary.

NSS applauds the dedication and hard work that Boeing is putting into the construction and support of the International Space Station, the amazing operational success of the reusable X-37B space plane, the return of American astronauts to space via the CST-100 Starliner, and its portion of the NASA Space Launch System. NSS wishes all of Boeing the best of success on these and other endeavors.

Over the 42 year history of NSS, numerous Boeing employees have volunteered to serve as NSS Directors, Officers, and other leaders. They have brought with them Boeing Company core values of dedication and high ethical and work standards. This has had a positive impact on the evolution of NSS extending even to its guiding principles of human rights, ethics, and pragmatism.

NSS looks forward to continuing its working relationship with Boeing during the next 100 years. From all of us to all of Boeing: Happy 100th and Ad Astra!

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NSS Presents Expanded Space Elevator Library

Thanks to National Space Society’s affiliate the International Space Elevator Consortium, we have substantially updated and expanded our Space Elevator Library. Check it out!

 
 
 
 

Posted in NSS Website Updates, Space Transportation | 1 Comment

2016 August Home District Blitz

You are cordially invited to join the 2016 Annual ASD/NSS/SFF August Home District Blitz congressional action event. This event supports the 2016 Alliance for Space Development (ASD) annual campaign. You can expect topics being pushed to include items like support for the Space Exploration, Development, and Settlement Act (H.R. 4752), a Low Cost Access to Space Prize, full funding for Commercial Crew, and supporting a gapless transition from the ISS to commercial space stations. During the blitz, local groups will arrange to visit their Congressperson’s home district offices during the August recess. Signup is via http://goo.gl/forms/40pGqMuGcU1n6aiB2. Please sign up immediately and follow the directions on the NSS legislative page at www.nss.org/legislative to set up an appointment with your Representative and Senators.

ASD includes groups like the Space Frontier Foundation, the National Space Society, the Lifeboat Foundation, The Mars Foundation, The Mars Society, the Space Development Foundation, the Space Development Steering Committee, the Space Tourism Society, Students for the Exploration and Development of Space, Students on Capitol Hill, the Tea Party in Space, and the Texas Space Alliance. You can find out more about ASD at www.allianceforspacedevelopment.org.

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The National Space Society Pays Tribute to the Space Policy Leadership of Former FAA Leader Patricia Grace Smith

The National Space Society celebrates the life and contributions of a visionary champion of the commercial space industry and human space settlement, the Honorable Patricia Grace Smith. Ms. Smith unexpectedly passed away on June 5th, after quietly fighting pancreatic cancer over the last year.

“The commercial space industry owes a huge debt to Patti Grace Smith whose years of determined and well-reasoned advocacy combined with her natural charm and grace won over many converts in government and fostered the birth of a new industry. There might not be a commercial space flight industry were it not for Patti’s leadership,” said Bruce Pittman, Senior Operating Officer of the National Space Society.

Ms. Smith served her country for almost three decades, including eleven years as the Associate Administrator for the Federal Aviation Administration’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation. She was appointed to this office shortly after it became part of the FAA and was instrumental in creating policies and guiding the FAA’s regulatory efforts in a manner that was supportive of the emerging commercial space flight industry

After retiring from the FAA in 2008, Ms. Smith became an important consultant to the commercial space industry and was the chair of the commercial space committee of the NASA Advisory Council until 2014. She was also the vice-chair of the Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board of the National Academies and a Member-at-Large of the Board of Directors of the Space Foundation.

NSS is following the path opened by Patti Smith in one of our initiatives called the Space Exploration, Development and Settlement Act of 2016. This bill, just introduced in Congress, will change the NASA charter to enable NASA to do more. To help with this effort, citizens can take action here.

Patti’s family has asked that donations be made in her name to:

American Cancer Society
800-227-2345 action 2
Or
PO Box 22718
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73123-1718
Or
Cancer.org

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Enterprise In Space Program Sparks Visitor Interest at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum

Over 1000 visitors were introduced to the ambitious Enterprise In Space (EIS) program at Space Day recently held June 4 at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum (NASM). NASM houses artifacts of important milestones along the path of aviation and aeronautical development.

EIS1Invited to be among the many firsts of historical space achievements celebrated at Space Day, the EIS team was thrilled to participate in collaboration with the Smithsonian Science Education Center (SSEC). This year’s event drew some 30,000 visitors from around the world and included a presentation by astronaut Terry Virts.

Visitors at the EIS booth were excited to learn about its educational mission and the differences between the EIS program and some of the historical and inspirational missions of the past. National Space Society’s EIS mission includes many important ‘firsts:’

  • The first spacecraft bearing the name Enterprise to orbit Earth
  • The first Sci-Fi inspired design of a spacecraft.
  • The first to converse with student teams in natural language while in orbit using an artificial intelligence just like the Star Trek™ computer assisted their crews with experiments and analyses.
  • The first non-profit organization to launch and return student experiments free of charge, allowing children of all socio-economic levels to participate.
  • Students work in cross-cultural teams to convince judges that their experiment should earn the right to be among the 100+ experiments flown.
  • Likely the first 3-D printed spacecraft (aero-frame and skin) to orbit and return to Earth.
  • The first to promote and encourage liberal and fine arts as part of the experimental design.

EIS2“The collaboration between SSEC and EIS will promote authentic STEM experiences, a focus of the Federal Committee on STEM Education,” says Carol O’Donnell, Director of SSEC. She captivated students at an enjoining booth in an interactive activity involving an eclipse and moon phase demonstration, one of the lessons found in SSEC’s intermediate astronomy course. In a conversation discussing how authentic learning experiences are increasing the rigor and raising the bar of education, Dr. O’Donnell posed the question, “How much more authentic can you get than with the EIS program!”

Authentic learning engagement is a top priority of EIS and will be achieved through the student experiment design challenges. At Space Day, visitors had a chance to experience some lessons in the web-based EIS Academy (K-12) and cutting-edge challenges in the university level Enterprise Centers for Excellence. The LEO Art Challenge and Trek-A-Sat activities were a hit and can be found at www.eisacademy.org.

Visitors showed outstanding enthusiasm while interacting with EIS and SSEC representatives, resulting in Doug Baldwin, Program Director of Educational Services at NASM, noting that he “looks forward to working on future collaborations and events with EIS and SSEC.”

“EIS is delighted and honored to participate in Space Day and meet the dedicated people who’s hard work make this event possible year after year. As previous generations were inspired by the Apollo program, EIS hopes to inspire the next generation,” said Alice Hoffman, Program Manager of EIS.

Enterprise in Space is inspiring today’s children for tomorrow’s future.

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St. Louis and Space: Site of ISDC 2017

By Gloria Lloyd

Since the International Space Development Conference will be in St. Louis in May, 2017, it is appropriate to learn about the St. Louis connection with space.

“This is a frontier good for millions of years. The only time remotely comparable was when Columbus discovered a whole new world.” – James S. McDonnell in an interview with TIME Magazine, 1967

“Spring break in Ibiza or Miami? I’d rather be in St. Louis, with the future.” – Will.I.Am at the FIRST Robotics World Championships at the Edward Jones Dome, April 26, 2014

The Stealth Bomber - based in Missouri - flies over the Gateway Arch.

St. Louis first became a city of exploration when it was just a river town on the edge of a vast expanse of unknown wilderness, where Lewis and Clark set out to explore the West. So it is fitting that St. Louis has played a key role in both aviation and space history, designing, engineering and manufacturing the planes and spaceships that some of the world’s greatest explorers used to travel around the world – and out of it.

The steel arches of the Eads Bridge. Photo by Gwendolyn Mercer.

St. Louis first secured its spot in engineering history in 1867 when James Eads connected Missouri and Illinois with the world’s first steel bridge, the Eads Bridge (up to that time, steel was not used as a construction material, and no bridges had ever been built across a river as wide as the Mississippi). Skeptics told Eads such a contraption could never work. Andrew Carnegie kicked off the modern steel industry, and America’s Industrial Age, when he saw how difficult it was to get steel to St. Louis to build the bridge. Before the Arch, the Eads Bridge became an iconic symbol of St. Louis, compared to the Eiffel Tower in Paris and called the seventh wonder of the modern world. The bridge is still in use today, for cars, pedestrians andMetroLink light rail trains.

The St. Louis airport, Lambert Field, has a rich history of amazing experimental flights and of innovation – it was a key link in the first transcontinental air-rail service, the first airport with an air traffic control system and housed manufacturing facilities that produced the United States Navy’s first jet fighter – and America’s first spaceship.

Charles Lindbergh and his plane, the Spirit of St. Louis.

Although Charles Lindbergh is undoubtedly the headliner of St. Louis aviation history, the city already had an esteemed list of record-holders even before his flight, including a long-held record for thelongest hot-air balloon flight, set in 1859 by John Wise on a flight between St. Louis and Henderson, N.Y. At the 1904 World’s Fair – thebiggest spectacle the world had ever seen up to that point – aeronauts dazzled spectators with the first-ever public powered flights, of airships. Theodore Roosevelt became the first president to fly here in 1911, and military installation Jefferson Barracks saw the first parachute jump from a plane in 1912.

But it was Lindbergh’s first transatlantic solo flight in 1927 – and the St. Louis spirit that got him there – that changed the course of the 20th century. When Lindbergh wanted to do what no one had done before – fly nonstop across an ocean – it was nine entrepreneurs in St. Louis, where Lindbergh lived and flew airmail flights, who funded his unlikely transatlantic dream. He honored them by naming his plane the Spirit of St. Louis, and he successfully flew between New York and Paris (after a record-setting long-distance stopover in St. Louis) in 1927.

A McDonnell F3H Demon in flight in 1956.

As the headquarters of the McDonnell Aircraft Corporation from its inception in the 1930s, as well as many other aviation companies that formed in the wake of Lindbergh’s successful flight and the resulting aviation mania, St. Louis produced many legendary civilian and military aircraft – including, as one example, the 1929 Curtiss Robin used by “Wrong Way” Corrigan for his famous flight across the Atlantic, and the St. Louis Robin that set a world endurance record.

U.S. astronauts Gordon Cooper (right) and Pete Conrad celebrate after returning from the Gemini 5 mission in 1965.

Even before the Soviet Union launched Sputnikin 1957, James S. McDonnell tasked 45 engineers in St. Louis to start working on the first manned spaceship. That foresight made St. Louis ground zero for America’s first human spaceflight program, Project Mercury, and McDonnellmanufactured 20 space capsules to send the first Americans – and chimpanzees – into space, and much of the simulation and training America’s first astronauts underwent happened in St. Louis. Through the Mercury program, America sent its first man to space, Alan Shepard, and John Glenn became the first American to orbit Earth in the Friendship 7 capsule, now on display at the Smithsonian alongside theSpirit of St. Louis.

Mercury astronaut and future Senator John Glenn in orbit on the Friendship 7.

“It is essential that the United States be first, and I can imagine no action, no adventure, which is more essential and more exciting.” – President John F. Kennedy, in remarks to McDonnell employees working on America’s first spaceship following his visit to St. Louis to see the Mercury space capsule in September 1962.

“At the president’s departure, he stated that he was greatly impressed by what he saw in St. Louis.” – newscaster in historic newsreel footage, recounting Kennedy’s visit.

NASA’s follow-up program, Project Gemini, saw the second American in space, astronaut Gus Grissom, arrive in St. Louis to assist McDonnell engineers in building their next spaceship. Gemini astronauts spent time in St. Louis at McDonnell on training simulators for their missions.

Gemini 6 in space, as seen from Gemini 7 during their rendezvous.

In all, 10 manned Gemini capsules were made in St. Louis and launched from Cape Canaveral in 1965 and 1966 as a runup to the Apollo program, which had the lofty goal of landing Americans on the Moon by the end of the 1960s. Gemini astronauts took some of the first spacewalks, stayed in the spacecraft long enough to reach the Moon and perfected rendezvous and docking in preparation for the eventual Moon landing.

Route-66-CruisinDuring the successes of the Gemini program and just past the heyday of Route 66 – when a generation of travelers traveled to St. Louis to “get their kicks” on the Mother Road – the Gateway Arch was erected on the downtown riverfront, serving as the city’s foremost symbol of its status as the Gateway to the West. It is America’s largest man-made monument.

Although NASA’s space shuttles were not entirely manufactured in St. Louis like their spaceship predecessors had been, Space Shuttle Enterprise at Lambert FieldSt. Louisplayed an important role in the space shuttle program. NASA later noted that native St. Louisan and McDonnell Douglas engineer John Yardley, who helped design and develop the shuttle while at McDonnell and then headed the entire program for NASA, was “as responsible as any individual for getting the Space Shuttle program off the ground.” McDonnell Douglas also manufactured the aft propulsion pods that helped the shuttle get into orbit and turn once it reached space. As a mark of appreciation for McDonnell Douglas’s impact on the space shuttle program, NASA flew the first space shuttle, theEnterpise prototype, to St. Louis. Today, the most storied of the space shuttles,Discovery, is housed at the National Air and Space Museum’s Udvar-Hazy Center in the James S. McDonnell Hangar, a fitting nod to McDonnell’s enduring and continuing contributions to America’s space program.

St. Louis astronaut Bob Behnken returns from one of his many spacewalks.

Nine current or former astronauts were born in, raised or went to school in Missouri, including Eileen Collins, the first female spaceship commander. McDonnell Douglas engineer Charlie Walker was the first non-government astronaut to fly in space, during the space shuttle program. Sandra Magnus, from St. Louis suburb Belleville, Ill., flew on the final space shuttle flight in 2011. Dick Richards flew four space shuttle flights. Tom Akers flew four space shuttle flights, including the maiden flight of Endeavour, and is now a professor at nearby Missouri University of Science and Technology in Rolla,STS-135_Official_Crew_PhotoMo. Other Missouri and Illinois native astronauts include active astronaut Bob Behnken of St. Ann, who has flown in space twice and is currently the Chief Astronaut, Janet Kavandi, who is active and has flown on three space shuttle flights, Linda Godwin andSteven Nagel, who are married and both now professors at the University of Missouri at Columbia,Scott Altman of central Illinois and Michael Hopkins, who recently returned from the International Space Station, after tweeting a picture of St. Louis from space.

First commercial astronaut Mike Melvill after piloting his spaceplane to X-Prize victory.

Since St. Louis was at the forefront of aviation and America’s space program, it comes as no surprise that it has also played a key role in the emergence of commercial spaceflight. In 2004, at a ceremony held at the St. Louis Science Center, the St. Louis-based X-Prize Foundation awardedits $10 million Ansari X-Prize to SpaceShipOnefor the first successful private spaceflight.

Today, St. Louis continues its longtime legacy of exploration as an aerospace hub, serving as the headquarters of Boeing’s $33 billion Defense, Space and Security Division, with 58,000 employees worldwide – a combined division of the company that emerged after the 1997 merger of Boeing, then based in Seattle and the world’s largest aircraft manufacturer, with St. Louis-based McDonnell Douglas, then the world’s second-largest aircraft manufacturer. The combined company now gets 45 percent of all American military contracts and designs and engineers and manufactures some of the most sophisticated aircraft ever seen.

The Blue Angels fly F-18 Hornets, made in St. Louis.

Three military jets, the F-15 Eagle, the E-18 Growler and the F-18 Hornet, are manufactured in St. Louis, and military operations and logistics around the world are commanded from the Department of Defense’s mobility and transportation hub at Scott Air Force Base. St. Louis is also home to Boeing Phantom Works, which is Boeing’s cutting-edge, classified military technology prototyping division and manufactures cutting-edge aircraft in St. Louis under a veil of secrecy.

After the retirement of the space shuttle and completion of the International Space Station, NASA’s focus has turned to commercial spaceflight to take cargo and supplies to the astronauts that are now a permanent presence on the space station, with an eye toward moving out of low-earth orbit to land humans on an asteroid and then Mars. During this transition, St. Louis still remains at the forefront of space: Boeing engineers in St. Louis are designing and building parts of Boeing’s Crew Space Transportation-100 (CST-100) capsule that, along with SpaceX’s Dragon capsule and Sierra Nevada’s Dream Chaserspaceplane, is one of NASA’s top contenders to ferry America’s astronauts to space for the Commercial Crew Program, NASA’s new commercial spaceflight program and partnership.

Rendering of Boeing's CST-100 in space.

Meanwhile, scientists at Washington University in St. Louis have taken the lead scientific roles in the Mars Opportunity rover mission, and many scientists right here in St. Louis are currentlyconducting groundbreaking scientific research on Mars in collaboration with Caltech’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory on the Mars Curiosity rover mission.

The Mars Curiosity Rover takes a self-portrait from Mars.

Oh, and did we mention that Apollo 13 flight director Gene Kranz (“Failure Is Not an Option”), graduated from St. Louis University’s Parks College of Engineering, Aviation and Technology? In addition to Washington University (which has had 22 Nobel Laureates) and SLU, St. Louis is a university town where many colleges and universities are currently training future stars of space and science, even before the debut of a newly-formed aerospace consortium among community colleges and universities. Every day, children take field trips and simulate missions to space at the St. LouisChallenger Learning Center. St. Louis also hosts the FIRST Robotics World Championships every year – where teams of the world’s smartest high school students work together to build robots to compete in a challenge that changes every year.

The view from Apollo 13, whose flight director Gene Kranz graduated from St. Louis University.

St. Louisans continue to witness aviation history – in 2013, the first solar-powered airplane, Solar Impulse, stopped in St. Louis on its first cross-country flight to follow in Lindbergh’s footsteps (watch it land at Lambert Field in a time-lapse video here). And on the silver screen, the plane-themed movie Up in the Air filmed in St. Louis.

St. Louis's space-themed hotel, the Moonrise.

Since St. Louis has played – and plays – such an esteemed role in America’s space program, it is fitting that one of the world’s few – if not only- space-themed hotels can be found right here on the world-famous Delmar Loop: the Moonrise Hotel, built by local developer (and space enthusiast) Joe Edwards. Appropriately for St. Louis, the Moonrise’s rooftop bar features the world’s largest man-made moon, eight feet in diameter.

Visitors to St. Louis have the opportunity to see some of the city’s space history through exhibits on display at the St. Louis Science Center and the James S. McDonnell Planetarium, one of the premier facilities in the country for space education. A Mercury and Gemini capsule manufactured in St. Louis (like all Mercury and Gemini capsules were) are on display at the Science Center and planetarium, which are connected by a skybridge over Interstate 64.

Exploration buffs can also find the replica Spirit of St. Louis used in the movie about Lindbergh’s flight hanging from the ceiling at the Missouri History Museum, also in Forest Park. At times, the History Museum has extensiveCharles Lindbergh exhibits, since Lindbergh chose to donate his papers, artifacts and memorabilia from his storied career in aviation to the museum. The museum also features many St. Louis aviation artifacts and special exhibits.

Missouri History Museum's Spirit of St. Louis replica, used in the movie.

The Creve Coeur Spirit of St. Louis Airport hosts a museum that displays one of the largest collections of vintage aircraft in the country. The Boeing Prologue Room is a museum of McDonnell Douglas and Boeing history that is open to the public in the summer.

The Greater St. Louis Air and Space Museum features many McDonnell Douglas aircraft and is located in a historic hangar at the St. Louis Downtown Airport in Cahokia, Ill., which was a stop of almost all the notable early aviators, including Lindbergh and Amelia Earhart.

One of Lindbergh’s iconic planes – donated by Lindbergh himself – hangs in the terminal at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport.

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