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Attention Students! Write an Essay, Meet a Space Shuttle Astronaut.

Retired NASA Astronaut and U.S. Navy Captain Christopher J. Ferguson is slated to attend our Fifth Annual Spring Gala to benefit our educational and community outreach efforts. The event will also raise funds for the restoration of the original training capsule, or gondola, of the Johnsville Centrifuge. The event will be held at the VE Club at 130 Davisville Road, Warminster, PA on May 10th at 6 PM.

To celebrate the event, the Bucks County Herald has partnered with us to give local students a chance to attend the event by submitting an essay answering the question, “Why is Science Education Important?” Students may enter in one of three divisions; grades 1 through 4, grades 5 through 8, and grades 9 through 12. All entries must include the student’s full name, school, grade as well as the student’s or parent’s phone and e-mail contact information.

There is no minimum word requirement for grades 1 through 4, while entries in the other two divisions must be between 200 and 300 words in length. All entries must be submitted via e-mail to events@nadcmuseum.org no later than Saturday, April 26, 2014. One winner in each division will be awarded three tickets to the event to enable them to  attend with two guests.

Retired NASA Astronaut and USN Captain (ret.) Christopher J. Ferguson will be speaking at the 5th Annual Spring Gala to benefit the NADC Museum on May 10, 2014

Retired NASA Astronaut and USN Captain (ret.) Christopher J. Ferguson will be speaking at the 5th Annual Spring Gala to benefit the NADC Museum on May 10, 2014

We are an all-volunteer organization dedicated to preserving the legacy of innovation born of the Johnsville Naval Air Development Center (NADC), and using that legacy as a springboard to encourage students to explore careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). Located near the intersection of Street and Jacksonville Roads in Warminster until it closed in 1996, NADC was home to numerous U.S. Navy research labs where technologies as diverse as photo-grey lenses, flight data recorders (“black boxes”) and GPS were developed. One of those labs was the centrifuge at NADC, best known for its work in training the Mercury, Gemini, Apollo and early Space Shuttle astronauts.

The Spring Gala is our marquee event of the year. You can image how excited we are to have Captain Ferguson as a speaker. Not only was he Commander of the final US Space Shuttle mission ever to be flown, but he also came to NADC as part of his training when he was a Navy pilot. The Gala promises to be a memorable event. We are also excited that the Bucks County Herald has partnered with us to help promote the event and this essay contest.

In addition to our educational and community outreach efforts, we are working to preserve the original centrifuge gondola. Dubbed the Mercury 7 Gondola, it was used to train all of America’s early astronauts, including Alan Shepard, John Glenn and Neil Armstrong. It was housed in a Smithsonian Institution storage yard from 1963 through 2011 where it was, unfortunately, exposed to the weather. It was returned to Bucks County in May 2011 and is currently on public display outdoors at the Penn State Anechoic Chamber, 300 W. Bristol Road, Warminster. Museum volunteers are working with Warminster Township to secure a parcel of land in Warminster Community Park on which to build a pavilion that will house the preserved gondola.

The Mercury 7 Gondola, home at last.

The Mercury 7 Gondola, home at last.

Additional information about our efforts and the event may be found at our website at www.nadcmuseum.org , by contacting events@nadcmuseum.org or calling 267-250-8841

2013 Spring Gala Debrief

Last night we held our Fourth Annual Spring Gala at the Vereinigung Erzgebirge (“VE”) Club in Warminster. Thanks to all who came out and helped to make it a special event.  We were honored to have in attendance four Tuskegee Airmen: Mr. Roscoe D. Draper, Maj. John L. Harrison, Maj. Bertram A. Levy, and Dr. Eugene J. Richardson, Jr. As part of the program, we were treated to a special historical interpretation of the life of Bessie Coleman (the first black woman to receive an international pilot license) by Dr. Daisy Century, and we got a great first hand presentation on unmanned aerial reconnaissance and surveillance vehicles by Tom Fenerty, President and CEO of Navmar Applied Sciences Corporation (NASC), one of the nation’s leading defense contractors in this technology.

Left to Right: Tom Fennerty, Maj. John L. Harrison, Dr. Daisy Century as Bessie Coleman, Maj. Bertram A. Levy, Dr. Eugene J. Richardson, Jr., Mr. Roscoe D. Draper.

In addition to the opportunity to rub shoulders with history, last night was a great opportunity for us to share our interactive traveling exhibits which have been presented to numerous scout and school groups and to unveil our architect’s rendering of the Mercury 7 Gondola pavilion that we will be proposing to Warminster Township for placement in Warminster Township Community Park on the grounds of the former NADC Johnsville. It has been our honor since the founding of our organization to present the history of innovation of the former NADC Johnsville as a springboard to inspire area youth to pursue STEM careers.

Left to Right: Dan McPhillips, Warminster Township Supervisor, Michael Maguire, Museum President, Dr. Derrick Pitts, Chief Astronomer Fels Planetarium at the Franklin Institute, Warminster Township Supervisors Frank Feinberg and Mark McKee, Mark Calhoun, Museum Vice President.

Of course, the success of our gala and everything we do is made possible by the support of our friends and sponsors, including last night’s Mercury Level Sponsors, Navmar Applied Sciences Corporation and the Dombrowski Family and Chicago Title Insurance Company. Our thanks again, to all who attended and made this such a memorable event.

 

2013 Gala Tickets Now Available

 

Tickets are now available for our Fourth Annual Spring Gala to be held on June 8, 2013 at the VE Club on Davisville Road in Warminster. This year’s event features raffles and silent auctions as well as remarks by Navmar Applied Technologies CEO Tom Fenerty. Proceeds will benefit the educational outreach programs of the Johnsville Centrifuge and Science Museum which seeks to inspire students to explore Science, Technology, Engineering and Math careers by telling the story of the innovations which came out of the labs at the Johnsville Naval Air Development Center in Warminster.  The Gala will also help to raise funds for the preservation of the original Johnsville Centrifuge gondola. We look forward to having you join us. A ticket order form can be downloaded by clicking here. Information on sponsorship opportunities is available by contacting events@nadcmuseum.org or by calling 267-250-8841.

Shuttle Discovery Delivered to Smithsonian


Earlier today, you may have seen the news coverage of the transfer of Space Shuttle Discovery to Washington DC on the back of a 747 jetliner. The event of the delivery of a Space Shuttle to the Smithsonian Institution brought thousands of onlookers out to the National Mall to witness Shuttle Discovery at it was flown over our nation’s capitol, and snarled traffic around Dulles International Airport as the jet was making its final approach. Additionally #Discovery was a top trending topic on Twitter throughout the morning. The public reaction to this event leaves no doubt that there is still a high degree of interest in our country’s being a world space and technology leader.

We agree that it is important to preserve America’s history and future as a space faring nation and as a developer of advanced aviation technology. We see our mission to inspire future generations as an important one, and we invite you to join us in creating that future. The youth of today are the scientists, engineers and doctors of tomorrow. We need your help to inspire them to explore new frontiers and find solutions to the problems facing society. Although our efforts are over four years old, we are just getting off the launch pad.

Much has already been accomplished. In the past twelve months we not only brought back the original training gondola (the Mercury 7 Gondola) used by many notable astronauts, but we also obtained, literally, truckloads of other artifacts important to local history; not the least of which is Flanagan Grey’s Iron Maiden.

In addition to building our collection of artifacts and exhibits, we have also begun to develop the most important aspect of our mission; reaching out to schools and other organization to lay the groundwork for our educational outreach and learning programs. In just the past few months we attended our first science fair, hosted the Commonwealth Connections Academy, and presented at the Franklin Institute. We will also be featured at the NJ State Museum in Trenton this month. We have also made presentations to numerous local senior centers, rotary clubs, scout groups and community centers.

The next twelve months will be very important as for us as we search for a full time home to display our collection and as a place to continue to educate and inform the public. We look forward to cleaning and preserving the Mercury 7 Gondola. Plans for a pavilion to house it are also in the works. These efforts will require resources which are not currently in our possession. We ask for your continued support by attending our Third Annual Gala to be held at the VE Club at 130 Davisville Road in Warminster on April 28th at 5:00 PM; by doing so you will help us to continue our journey and fulfill our mission.

Information about the Gala is available at our website at www.nadcmuseum.org. Tickets are available by contacting nadcmuseum@comcast.net or 267-250-8841. Without people like you who care and support us, we would have never accomplished as much as we have and we would not be able to continue into the future.

I personally thank you for your continued support.

Michael Maguire
President, Johnsville Centrifuge & Science Museum

 

2012 Lottery Calendars Now Available!!

Our popular lottery calendars are back for 2012. A $15 donation gets you a three digit number. Every night of 2012, based on the number drawn in PA Lottery evening drawing, one lucky calendar holder will win an amount from $15 to $100. It’s a great way to support a great organization with a chance to win your donation back every day of the year. Even better, if your number comes up more than once in the year, you can win multiple times. Check with your favorite museum volunteer or stop by between 1 and 4 pm on the first or third Sunday of the month. We will also be in the community throughout December at the following locations. Stop by, say hi, and get your calendar for 2012. Heck, get a few! They make great stocking stuffers.

Calendar Sales Locations

Friday, December 9th 5 pm to 8 pm: Ben Wilson Sr. Center, 580 Delmont Avenue, Warminster, PA 18974
Saturday, December 10th 8 am to 1 pm: Ben Wilson Sr. Center, 580 Delmont Avenue, Warminster, PA 18974
Saturday, December 17th 11 am to 4 pm: Shop n Bag, 1025 Second Street Pike, Richboro, PA 18954
Sunday, December 18th 11 am to 4 pm: Redner’s Market, 1661 Easton Rd., Warrington, PA 18976
Saturday, December 31st 11 am to 4 pm: Shop n Bag, 1025 Second Street Pike, Richboro, PA 18954

“MUSEUM IN THE PARK” TO BE PART OF WARMINSTER DAY TRICENTENNIAL FESTIVITIES

Johnsville Centrifuge and Science Museum to Showcase Artifacts on Loan from Patuxent River Naval Air Museum

Johnsville Centrifuge and Science Museum will be participating in this year’s Warminster Day this Saturday, September 10 from 11AM to 4PM at Warminster Community Park by featuring some recently acquired artifacts that have never been on display in the local area in a unique “Museum in the Park” setting.

Among the artifacts to be displayed will be a 1970s era test wing from an early pilotless drone and the 1950 dedication plaque from the centrifuge building, both of which are on loan from the Patuxent River Naval Air Museum (http://paxmuseum.com).  In addition, a rare fiberglass contour couch that was used for training in the centrifuge will be on display. The contour couch was acquired by the museum from the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum.

NASA Ambassador Presentations
to Occur Throughout the Day

Also included in the program will be Dr. Ann Schmiedekamp, NASA Solar System Ambassador and Professor of Physics at Penn State University, who will be giving presentations throughout the day on the challenges involved in interplanetary travel.  Dr. Schmiedekamp is one of a handful of NASA Solar System Ambassadors in the country.

 Special Interpretive Programs to be Offered
at Mercury 7 Gondola 

 The museum will also be providing a special interpretive program at the Mercury 7 Gondola – the original centrifuge capsule that was in use from 1950 through 1963 which was brought back to Warminster earlier this year after 47 years in storage at the Smithsonian Institution. All of the Mercury and Gemini astronauts stepped into the Mercury 7 Gondola as part of their training.

In addition, Art Guntner, a retired Naval Chief who rode the Johnsville Centrifuge over 350 times and who personally helped to train the Mercury astronauts will be available to meet attendees and share his stories.

“We are thrilled to be a part of the Tricentennial festivities at Warminster Day this year,’ said Michael Maguire, President of the museum. “In its day NADC was the largest employer in the county where many important technical developments were made. We feel it fitting that we will be exhibiting these artifacts at an event that is taking place on the old runway of the facility. We are especially thankful to the Pax River Museum for the loan of these artifacts as well as to NASA and Dr. Schmiedekamp for generously agreeing to be a part of this event. It will be quite a day.”

 

20th CENTURY “TORTURE DEVICE” RETURNS TO BUCKS COUNTY

“Iron Maiden” Used to Set Standing World Record Comes Home

An important research tool once used to test theories about submerging the human body in water to lessen the effects of G forces encountered during space flight is returning to Bucks County after a 15 year absence.

Flashback… On December 7, 1958 Bucks County native and research scientist R. Flanagan Gray climbed inside a full body enclosure that looked like something out of a Jules Verne novel. Resembling a cast aluminum deep sea diving suit, Gray’s “Iron Maiden” was unique in many ways. One was that it was designed to keep water in. Another was that it was designed to be attached to largest and most powerful human centrifuge the world has ever seen.

After donning a special mask and goggles designed for high-g’s Gray submerged himself in the water that filled the tank and inserted a breathing tube in his mouth. He took a deep breath and held it. With a nod of his head, he signaled that he was ready for his research associates to take the world renowned Johnsville Centrifuge to it’s maximum. The ride eventually took Gray to 31.25 Gs sustained for approximately 5 seconds. By the time the run was over, Gray was exhuasted, quite worse for wear and a world record holder. Since then, noone has attempted to match his extraordinary feat.

Located, at the Johnsville Naval Air Development Center (NADC) in Warminster, PA, the centrifuge, known in the day as Aviation Medical Acceleration Laboratory (AMAL) was one of 31 laboratories on the base. When NADC was shuttered in 1996, the Iron Maiden was moved to the Naval Air base at Patuxent River, MD and placed on display at the Patuxent River Naval Air Museum. The important artifact is now on loan to the Johnsville Centrifuge and Science Museum for the next two years. Following the arrival of the Mercury 7 Gondola this past May, the Iron Maiden is the second major artifact of historical importance to be brought home to Bucks County by the museum.

The Iron Maiden will be on public display at the Bucks County Visitors Center at 3207 Street Road, Bensalem from August 31 through September 23.

“We are excited to bring this important piece of history back to Bucks County,” said Michael Maguire, President of the Johnsville Centrifuge and Science Museum. “The centrifuge was one of the many labs at NADC where pioneering technology that touches our everyday life was developed. Once you see the Iron Maiden and imagine being sealed inside of it, you can’t help but be amazed by the dedication of all the scientists and engineers at NADC. We are thrilled that the Patuxent River Naval Air Museum is loaning this artifact to us. ”

THE MERCURY 7 GONDOLA IS HOME!

The Mercury 7 Gondola being lowered into place

May 5, 2011 was a historic day for Bucks County as the original gondola of the Johnsville Centrifuge that was used for training America’s early space heroes returned to Warminster. It had spent the last 47 years at the Paul E. Garber Preservation, Restoration and Storage Facility of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum in Suitland, Maryland.

All of America’s pioneering astronauts, including Alan Shepard, John Glenn and Neil Armstrong trained at the Johnsville Centrifuge prior to their historic space missions. In 1963 the gondola was replaced by a larger gondola to accommodate the three wide configuration needed to train for the Apollo missions. Shortly after its replacement it was transferred to the Smithsonian by the US Navy and has remained at the Garber facility ever since. The gondola has recently been “deaccessioned” (taken off the books) by the Smithsonian with ownership transferring to the Johnsville Centrifuge & Science Museum.

A special “Welcome Home” ceremony was held at the Bucks County Visitors Center for the Gondola on the date that marked the 50th Anniversary of the Mercury mission that placed Alan Shepard as the First American in Space. The move of the Gondola was made possible through a grant from History’s® Save Our History® initiative in partnership with Comcast.

We appreciate the support of all of our friends and partners, including Banacom Signs of Warminster, PA, The Bucks County Conference and Visitors Bureau, Clear Channel Communications, R. T. Hankinson Trucking of Ottsville, PA, Operating Engineers Local 542, Fort Washington, PA, Penn State University, Warminster Township, the many community leaders and politicians that wrote letters to the Smithsonian on our behalf, the staff and Management of the National Air and Space Museum and our many dedicated volunteers. We also appreciate the coverage of the local press, including Action News, Eyewitness News, Patch.com, The Daily Intelligencer, The Bucks County Herald and the many other local newspapers that sent photographers and reporters. We would like to extend a special thanks to History and Comcast for their generous support in the form of a $10,000 Save Our History® grant which enabled us to move the Gondola.

It has been a busy couple of weeks but rewarding in the end. There were many exciting and memorable moments. We loaded the gondola in the rain, but did not feel a drop. Along the way we saw countless cars slow in the passing lane and jockey for position in order to get a picture. We were delayed at the weigh station in Maryland so the state troopers could get a closer look at our historic load and pose next to it. As we drove along I-95 in Philadelphia, the good people at Clear Channel Communications saluted the Gondola’s return with a special message on their digital billboards. Before our arrival at the Bucks County Visitors Center we stopped at the Neil Armstrong Middle School to make sure that all of the banners were in place and our flags were able to fly free. We were greeted by the press and our enthusiastic friends at the Bucks County Visitors Center where the public got their first chance to see the Gondola up close in 47 years!

After that we were escorted by police and fire trucks all the way up Street Road, finally working our way to the Penn State Anechoic Chamber at 300 East Bristol Road in Warminster. There are no words to describe the feeling when the Gondola was finally offloaded and placed on its concrete pad to the cheers of an enthusiastic crowd. It was truly an inspirational moment.

Check out this video of the homecoming of the Mercury 7 Gondola from Patch.com. Make sure to watch in in full screen mode.

History Made Here

Below is the text of an editorial that appeared in the Daily Intelligencer on Monday, May 9, 2011.

History made here

America’s space program has roots in Warminster

IT WAS ALL so new then, so unfamiliar, so much like something out of Capt. Video: On May 5, 1961 – 50 years ago – astronaut Alan B. Shepard, one of the original seven U.S. astronauts, became the first American in outer space.

The Russians had beaten us to manned flight – Yuri Gagarin did it in April of that year – just as they had shocked the United States and the world years earlier with the launch of Sputnik, the first artificial satellite.

By comparison, Gagarin’s ride – a 108-minute orbital trip – made Shepard’s 15-minute suborbital journey seem like a walk across the street.

Nevertheless, Shepard was hailed as a national hero with parades in several cities. President John F. Kennedy awarded him a medal. More importantly, Shepard’s “foot in the space door” launched America’s manned space program, which eventually overtook the Soviet Union’s and culminated with the first moon landing, Apollo 11, in July 1969. Shepard himself would walk on the moon in 1971 as the commander of Apollo 14.

Shepard retired from NASA in 1974 and died of leukemia on July 21, 1998, 21 years to the day after the first moon walk. Though he’ll never be forgotten as America’s first space pioneer, he’s back in the news for a couple of reasons.

Last week, the U.S. Postal Service issued a first-class stamp in Shepard’s honor.

And in an event much closer to home, the original centrifuge gondola that Shepard trained in during Project Mercury was returned to Warminster Township, where the former Johnsville Naval Air Development Center once was home to the world’s largest human centrifuge. The arrival of the gondola on May 5 coincided with the 50th anniversary of Shepard’s first flight.

Many other astronauts from the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs came to the NADC to ride the gondola and experience the effects of high G-forces that they would later be subjected to during launches.

After its days of spinning astronauts were over, the gondola became part of the collection at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum in Washington. But its place at the Smithsonian for well over four decades – in an outside storage yard, away from public view – hardly did proper justice to such a key contributor to the U.S. space program.

According to the Johnsville Centrifuge and Science Museum website, the return of the gondola to its home in Warminster is part of the Save Our History campaign sponsored by The History Channel.
Eventually, the gondola will be displayed at the centrifuge building.

That our early astronauts prepared for their journeys right in our own backyard is not a particularly well-known chapter in the story of America’s space program. The centrifuge gondola’s homecoming is a good reason to learn about the role Bucks County played in the nation’s early exploration of the final frontier.

Program Announced for Museum Gala

TICKETS ARE NOW AVAILABLE
FOR OUR SECOND ANNUAL SPRING GALA:
SAT., MAY 14TH 2011 AT THE VE CLUB

Renown Astronomer Derrick Pitts to Provide Comments on Importance of Science Education

Program will also feature Special Q&A Session
with Retired Naval Corpsman
who Helped Train Mercury Astronauts

We are happy to announce that Derrick Pitts, the Chief Astronomer and Director of the Fels Planetarium at the Franklin Institute will be providing comments at our event. Derrick’s father worked at NADC and inspired Derrick’s interest in space and science at a young age. Derrick is well known in the Philadelphia region for his work on WHYY and WXPN-FM an is recognized nationally for his many appearances on show like The Today Show, Good Morning America, and Newton’s Apple. We are thrilled to welcome Derrick to our event.

In addition, retired Naval Corpsman Art Guntner will be featured in a special Q&A session. In what promises to be an extraordinary oral history, Art will recount his days in the Navy where one of his assignments was as an Aerospace Medicine Technician at the Johnsville Centrifuge. While stationed at Johnsville, Art flew over 350 simulations in the centrifuge and was personally involved in briefing and training the Mercury Astronauts.  

Our Second Annual Spring Gala will be held on Saturday, May 14 from 6 to 11 PM at the VE Club at 130 Davisville Road in Warminster, PA. Tickets are $60 each and include your choice of Filet Mignon or Salmon. Tables of 8 are available. Tickets can be purchased by contacting nadcmuseum@comcast.net or by calling 267-250-8841. We look forward to seeing you at this very special event.

Renown Astronomer Derrick Pitts will speak at the Second Annual Spring Gala

c1960, Art Guntner (left) assists John Glenn after a flight in the Johnsville Centrifuge