Posts Tagged 'space shuttle'

Rocket and Roll

by Toby Swaford, K-12 Education Coordinator

Have you ever wanted to help wake up an astronaut?

NASA is looking for the songs that will help the crew start their days on the last few remaining Space Shuttle missions.  For you musically talented folks out there, there’s an opportunity to upload an original song to be played on STS -134, scheduled to launch in February of 2011.  NASA will choose the best of the submissions to be voted on by the public starting February 8th, with all submissions due by the 10th of January, 2011.  So get working on your musical masterpiece to be played for the entire world to hear.

Of course, for those of us that couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket, there’s also a chance to vote for one of the forty tunes that have already been used as a wake-up call for the astronauts on previous missions.  You can choose from such diverse songs as Frank Sinatra’s Fly Me to the Moon, and Thomas Dolby’s She Blinded me with Science. The Beatles are the only act with two songs in the running, Here Comes the Sun, and Good Day Sunshine.  The Rolling Stones have an entrant in their hit Start me Up, while Canadian rockers Rush, are represented by the appropriately named Countdown.  There’s even competition between John William’s Theme from Star Wars and the title music from Star Trek, complete with a voice over by the original Captain Kirk, William Shatner.

For more information and the chance to submit your original composition or vote for your favorite song visit


Take a trip to the Moon and back at the Museum

by Deb Price, Science Educator

The Fort Collins Museum & Discovery Science Center is opening a temporary exhibit, “To the Moon and Back,” Saturday, July 25 with a variety of special activities and programs. The event celebrates the 40th anniversary of the first moon landing on July 20, 1969.

Live video broadcasts from Space Center Houston at 10:30 am, 11:30 am, and 12:30 pm will revisit the historical significance of that first touchdown on the Moon, plus provide a glimpse of upcoming missions to the Moon and to Mars. Interactive, hands-on space activities will be offered from 11 am to 2 pm in the gallery and the Museum courtyard.

Visitors will also have a chance to share memories of the first moon landing, and children are invited to share their vision for future space missions.

The temporary exhibit features artifacts on loan from NASA, including space helmets from the Apollo and space shuttle flights, moon rock replicas, in-flight space suit, astronaut food, and photographs of astronauts and other space scientists. The exhibit will be at the Museum through the end of August. The Museum is offering the exhibit and special activities through its partnership with Virtual Space Community, an outreach program through Space Center Houston.

All July 25th activities are included in the price of admission: $4 for adults, $3 for children (ages 3-12) and seniors (60+). Children 2 and under are free. The Fort Collins Museum & Discovery Science Center is at 200 Mathews St. in downtown Fort Collins. For more information, go to the website at or call 970-221-6738.

Space science blasts off at Webber Jr. High School

by Deb Price, Education Coordinator, Discovery Science Center

On April 23, students from Webber Junior High in Fort Collins participated in a mock NASA launch. It might as well have been the real thing:  7th-9th graders were chosen to participate in the program by submitting applications, resumes, and references, and then given one of many jobs including astronaut, mission control staff, flight director, or engineer, just to name a few. They took their jobs seriously; as Mission Control guided the astronauts on board a life-size model of the shuttle, the room was utterly quiet.  The shuttle pilot flew the “craft,” and if he crashed, the mission would have turned into a rescue operation.

During the mission, the astronauts performed experiments “in space” designed by other students while the ground crew monitored the flight. A video conference with Space Center Houston halfway through the morning let students experience what it’s really like for astronauts to live in space, including how they eat…and even details about how they go to the bathroom!

Space is such an engaging topic for students. They are enamored with the idea of space travel, and it motivates them to increase their science, math, engineering, and technology skills. These students were not just “playing” astronaut—for two days they WERE part of a NASA mission, even designing their own mission emblem.

Colorado has many connections with NASA, through a plethora of companies that produce, design, or build components for space missions. Discovery Science Center and the Fort Collins Museum are also part of Virtual Space Community, an educational outreach of Space Center Houston.

There are budding young scientists in our midst here in Colorado, and who knows — the first astronaut to land on Mars could be from right here in Fort Collins! As astronaut John Glenn said, “The most important thing we can do is inspire young minds and to advance the kind of science, math and technology education that will help youngsters take us to the next phase of space travel.”

Webber Jr. High students during their NASA mission

Webber Jr. High students during their NASA mission

Webber Jr. High's space shuttle mock-up

Webber Jr. High's space shuttle mock-up

Tales from a Space Blogger

by Beth Higgins, Public Relations/Development Coordinator, Fort Collins Museum

In 2006, my mom and dad retired and did the quintessential mom-and-dad-are-retired thing, and bought a house along the Florida coast – the “Space Coast” to be exact – on Merritt Island, just three miles from the Kennedy Space Center. Although my mom died in late 2006, dad kept the house, and our family has managed to make the trip from Colorado to Florida a few times since then.

Our last trip to Merritt Island earlier this month was above and beyond the normal fantastic. This time, we got to watch the space shuttle Discovery launch from the Kennedy Space Center on March 15. From the back of a boat. At twilight. “Wow” doesn’t even start to describe it.

Originally we weren’t even going to be there for the launch – it was scheduled for Wednesday, March 11th and we weren’t arriving until Friday. But, there was a problem with a fuel cell requiring, I’m sure, more than one trip to Ace Hardware. And then they had to launch by the 12th in order to meet up with the International Space Station before the Russians were scheduled for their rendezvous. Apparently, to our great surprise, the Russians were caught in traffic and running late, so the launch was re-scheduled for the 15th.

I honestly didn’t know what to expect. We made our way on Dad’s boat through the canals just before dusk. The launch was scheduled for 7:45, a twilight launch, supposedly the best kind. We joined a line of boat traffic at the Barge Canal…pontoons, sailboats, fishing boats, small motor boats, big boats. We all churned or sailed our way to the channel to get a good spot. We successfully anchored (yeah, Dad!) and turned on the radio. We had about 15 minutes to wait. On the boat was my dad Paul, his wife Karen, me, my husband Gary, my 8 year old son Brennan, my brother Paul, my sister Megan, and her friends Ashley and Chris.  Chris, Megan and Ashley are teachers – Megan and Chris teach science. Chris brought his video camera (thanks, Chris! You can see his video below). We all sat in the back of the boat, taking picture after picture of a gorgeous sunset, when we heard we had one minute to launch.

You couldn’t see the shore from the boat, so we just peered north and waited. Suddenly, it seemed the sun had come up in the west.  A huge fireball sat on the horizon, just hanging there for a few seconds. And then it lifted. We screamed, as did everyone else on all the boats around us. We hooted and hollered, and fell into stunned silence as the bright, orange light climbed higher. Then hooted and hollered again. Boats sounded their horns in that low, wailing complaining sound. Brennan watched through binoculars, while we all snapped picture after picture. About a minute after the launch, just as it seemed the shuttle would fly right over us, we heard the thunder. The sound shook the boat and vibrated in our chests. The smoke from the shuttle turned shades of orange, and pink, and purple far above our heads as it passed through the path of the setting sun. We watched the booster rockets fall away, and then, the fire disappeared. Instead, there was a long trail of smoke and what looked much like a star heading north. We were speechless. We felt that great sense of participation. We knew that we were incredibly lucky to have been a part of the launch, and that none of us would ever forget it.

After a bit of effort we pulled anchor and merged into the line of boats heading back to homes along the canals. We couldn’t stop talking about the launch. We laughed, and replayed it over and over again: Did you see when…? Did you hear…? I couldn’t believe…!

I know we’ll go back to the Kennedy Space Center again, especially now that we’ve been a part of this. And I also know that while I may never have the desire to hurl myself skyward and rocket through space, I was struck by the beauty and magnificence of the shuttle launch. I felt like part of a larger community, knowing that thousands were watching from streets and backyards all over Florida, and I was part of a smaller boat-bound community, yelling over the waves. It was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had, and I hope you, too, have an opportunity to experience it someday. Let me know, though, so I can reserve your spot on the boat.

Today, space shuttle Atlantis is rolling out to the launch pad for its upcoming mission to repair the Hubble Space Telescope. You can track its progress here. Also, don’t forget to check out the Virtual Space Community events at our very own Discovery Science Center! The next one is scheduled for this Saturday, April 4, from 12-1pm. In partnership with Space Center Houston, the program is broadcast live from Texas to DSC. During the broadcast, you can interact with the presenters and ask questions about space and the space program.

March 2023

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