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Posts Tagged ‘Smithsonian’

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

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

 

“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.