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Posts Tagged ‘Gondola’

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

Godspeed, John Glenn

50th Anniversary of NASA Milestone
Recalls Local Involvement in the Space Program and
Provides an Opportunity to Inspire Future Leaders
 

“Zero Gs and feeling fine!”  With those five words Mercury astronaut John Herschel Glenn, Jr. signaled that his spacecraft, Friendship 7, had entered its first of three orbits at approximately 2:52 p.m. on February 20, 1962. Four hours and fifty-five minutes later, his capsule would splash down and Glenn would become an iconic national hero – the first American to obit the earth. He would go on to serve 25 years in the U.S. Senate, and enter space history again in 1998 when, at the age of 77, he became the oldest person to fly in space on Space Shuttle Discovery (STS-95). Along with Scott Carpenter, John Glenn is the last surviving Project Mercury astronaut. He continues to be an outspoken advocate of America’s continued exploration of space. There is no doubt that Glenn’s flight fifty years ago paved the way for the moonwalk that Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin would make almost seven and a half years later.

Those who lived through those days remember that the astronauts were, to put it in today’s parlance, “A-list” celebrities. They received extensive media coverage and often were honored with tickertape parades on Broadway upon their return from space. While there were many spin-offs from the space program that have made modern life better, perhaps the most important is that the feats of the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo astronauts inspired a generation of children to pursue technology-based careers in science and engineering. After the Apollo moonwalks and with the advent of the shuttle program in the 1980’s spaceflight became “routine” and public interest in the space program generally waned.

While Bucks County is rich in early American history, local citizens are just starting to learn that before taking to the heavens Glenn and the rest of the NASA astronauts from those early programs came to Bucks County to prepare for the rigors of space flight on the Johnsville Centrifuge, the largest and most powerful human centrifuge ever built. As a matter of fact, the centrifuge gondola (capsule) used to train Glenn and other early astronauts is on public display at the Penn State Anechoic Chamber at 300 W. Bristol Road in Warminster, having returned from a Smithsonian storage facility where it was hidden from public view for over 45 years.  Plans are in the works to begin preservation work on this important artifact.

The Johnsville Centrifuge was just one of dozens of labs at the former Naval Air Development Center (NADC) in Warminster, PA where much of the technology we enjoy today was developed and tested. The Johnsville Centrifuge and Science Museum is a small group of dedicated volunteers working to preserve the legacy of Bucks County’s connection to the space program and to tell the story of the high tech work done at NADC, including refinements to GPS and the development of light sensitive lenses that are part of our everyday life. We believe that our area’s involvement in the space program can serve as an inspirational springboard to encourage our youth to explore the careers in technology that are so vital to our country’s future.

We encourage readers of this to use the 50th anniversary of the Friendship 7 mission as a conversation starter with their children or grandchildren. Ask them if they know who John Glenn is and what they know about the space program. Share with them what you remember about growing up in the space age. If you are old enough, tell them where you where when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the moon. You might be surprised; you may find out they have an interest in space and might even want to become an astronaut.

With today’s “heroes” often coming from the fields of sports and entertainment, there are very few, if any, high profile role models in today’s culture to encourage children to explore science and technology careers. Additionally, local, state and federal education budgets continue to be cut in the face of mounting deficits. The museum, along with its sponsors and partners, sees it as their mission to inspire the youth of today. This past month the museum hosted the students of the Commonwealth Connections Academy and their mobile classroom and participated in the Quarry Hill Elementary School Science Fair. It continues to develop its educational outreach programs. 

We salute Col. Glenn on the 50th Anniversary of his milestone mission and thank him, and all active military and veterans, for his dedicated service to our country.

Michael Maguire
President
Johnsville Centrifuge and Science Museum

c1959, John Glenn takes a break between training runs in the original “Mercury 7 Gondola” of the Johnsville Centrifuge

Looking Forward to 2012

Dear Friend of the Museum,

It is now time to look ahead to 2012, but before we do lets reflect on the accomplishments of the past several months. As we look back on 2011 we realize that we have had a very good year indeed. Our success is entirely due to our friends, supporters, sponsors and our tireless volunteers. A few highlights from 2011 include:

  • The return of the Mercury 7 Gondola to Warminster on May 5th coinciding with the 50th anniversary of Alan Shepard’s historic flight. The gondola was held at the Smithsonian Institute’s National Air and Space Museum’s storage yard in Suitland, Maryland for the past 47 years. Special thanks to Comcast and the History Channel for making the move possible.
  • A wonderful Spring Gala held in May and highlighted by two special guests, Art Guntner who assisted the Mercury Astronauts and who rode the centrifuge over 350 times himself related his unique oral history. He was joined by Derrick Pitts, Chief Astronomer for the Fels Planetarium at the Franklin Institute who delivered an inspiring story of his own.
  • The return of the Iron Maiden in August brought out many who worked with Flannigan Grey when he set his near unbeatable world record with the device in 1958.
  • A wonderful time at Warminster Day in September where we had an opportunity to display some exhibits in our “Museum in the Park” that are on loan from the Patuxent River Naval Air Museum in Maryland. We were also fortunate to have the weather cooperate for a flyover by a Navy F-18 that thanks to the coordination and support of Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick. The pilot was called in by NADC’s own Bob Campbell.
  • A special “friendraising” evening on December 8th at the Campbell Classic Auto Museum in Doylestown where supporters got to see some of the centrifuge couches that we have acquired from the National Air and Space Museum.

We could not have done any of these things or achieved any of our goals in 2011 without volunteers or supporters like you who have given so much of their time to make the museum the success that it has become.

We look forward to a busy and exciting 2012 as we continue to raise funds to preserve the Mercury 7 Gondola, make plans to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of John Glenn’s historic orbital flight in February and hold our Third Annual Spring Gala in April. Our education programs kick off in January with a visit form a traveling classroom followed shortly by our first participation in a science fair in February. We look forward to another special year as we create a place that honors the history of innovation at NADC and inspires our youth to reach for the stars in all that they do.

Thank you for your support.

Michael Maguire
President
Johnsville Centrifuge & Science Museum

“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.”

 

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.

IT’S HAPPENING! THE GONDOLA IS COMING HOME!!

After spending the last 47 years safely stored at the National Air & Space Museum’s Paul E. Garber Preservation, Restoration and Storage Facility in Suitland, Maryland, the original gondola of the Johnsville Centrifuge will be coming home to Warminster on May 5th, the 50th anniversary of Alan Shepard’s historic flight. The gondola’s return is being made possible as the result of a grant from History Channel in partnership with Comcast as part of the network’s Save Our History® campaign dedicated to historic preservation and history education.

The festivities are set to include a “Welcome Home” ceremony at 12:45 PM on May 5th at the Bucks County Visitor’s Center at 3207 Street Road in Bensalem (in front of the PARX casino). The gondola will be at the Visitors Center between Noon and 2. At 2PM the gondola will head up Street Road under police escort and will work its way to the Penn State Anechoic Chamber located on Bristol Road at the Warminster Community Park where it will be offloaded.

Everyone is invited to come out and witness this historic occasion. Tell your friends and have them come out too. Keep an eye out for more details in the coming days.

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

Museum Set to Reopen on April 17th

The Johnsville Centrifuge & Science Museum will reopen on April 17th and will be open on the first and third Sunday of each month between 1 and 3:30 PM.  We look forward to this year as we commemorate the 50th Anniversary of Alan Shepard’s historic flight in May and take part in the year long celebration of Warminster’s tricentennial.  Looking forward to next February, we will commemorate the 50th anniversary of John Glenn’s orbital mission.  The Bucks County connection is cannot be understated as the American astronauts endured grueling training sessions on the world famous Johnsville Centrifuge right here in Warminster, PA until just before their missions.

We also have an exhibit of the Mercury Program currently on display at the Warminster Township Parks and Recreation office at 1101 Little Lane in Warminster as part of our own contribution to 100 years of Naval Aviation and Warminster’s Tricentennial.  The exhibit tells the story of the technology and people behind our nation’s early space exploration efforts as well as marking President Kennedy’s speech that put Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins on a trajectory to where no man had gone before.  It also commemorates the service members, workers and contractors who played a part in our success as a nation by contributing their services at the Naval Air Development Center.  Stop in and check it out when you are in the area.

Plans are underway for our Second Annual Spring Gala which will be held on Saturday, May 14 at the VE Club.  Details are on our home page at www.nadcmuseum.org.  We hope you come out to for a fun night to support us.  We look forward to seeing all of our friends at the Gala and at the museum as we kick off another great season.    

Finally, we recently were granted approval from the Smithsonian Institute to bring the original gondola that was used for training the Mercury astronauts back to Warminster.   We’ll have more details on the move soon.