The View From Here

A Sea Monster in Colorado Springs?

Written by: developer

QUESTION: What weighs 21,000 pounds, lives at the bottom of the sea and is on its way to a new life in Colorado Springs?

ANSWER: NASA's Scott Carpenter Station underwater habitat.

The Scott Carpenter Station is an underwater habitat system that was used to demonstrate and teach about life support concepts for space missions, including advanced life support systems for space stations and Lunar and Martian bases. Designed and built as part of Kennedy Space Center's Mission To America's Remarkable Students (MARS) outreach effort, the station was operated continuously for 31 days on the sea floor off Key Largo, Fla., in 1997.

The Scott Carpenter Station will find a permanent home, and a place of honor, at the Space Foundation Visitors Center. Here it will continue its mission to educate students as a major component of our mission to inspire, enable and propel future generations of explorers.

Visitors Center Advances Our Mission
The expression of our mission through the opening of the Space Foundation Visitors Center is something about which we are tremendously excited. Our vision of creating a world-class space visitors center in Colorado began two years ago when community leaders came together to provide us with a spacious permanent home for the organization. The effort was jump-started in a big way last spring when Northrop Grumman stepped forward to fund the Northrop Grumman Science Center, featuring Science On a Sphere®.

Since opening to the public in October, we've hosted thousands of visitors from schools, business groups, industry alliances, technology forums, youth programs and the general public at our Visitors Center. Whether led by our space education specialists in formal Wonders of the Universe student programs, Space Foundation Team Members or our passionate cadre of volunteer docents, our visitors have gained inspirational and educational insights.

Make an Impact on Colorado and the World
Now, with your support, we're ready to do more. Thanks to recent contributions from the Boettcher Foundation and the Anschutz Foundation, we're taking the first steps to expand the Visitors Center from our current 1,700 square feet of exhibit space to nearly 17,000 square feet. We envision a world-class, space-focused educational science center with unique laboratories and simulators, interactive exhibits, distance learning studios and more. Unlike other "museums," S-STEM education is the driving force for us and not just an afterthought.

Up until our Visitors Center opened, Colorado Springs was undoubtedly the most important "space city" in the world without a space or science center of some sort. With more than a million residents in the Pikes Peak area, more than 5 million residents in the state and a service area that includes five critically important military installations, the area had a significant void that we are filling. In fact, we are serving an entire region - working with school groups and visitors from as far north as Cheyenne, Wyo., and as far south as the New Mexico border.

There's never been a more exciting time at the Space Foundation. And there are lots of opportunities for you to be part of the adventure!

We have a tremendous group of volunteers - but we can never have enough motivated and energetic space enthusiasts contributing their time to help advance the mission we all share of advancing space-related endeavors. Have you ever thought about being a docent, and sharing your space knowledge with others? If handling, restoring and preparing historic artifacts for display sounds like fun, why not volunteer for our collections team? If you enjoy meeting the public, why not volunteer for our admissions, customer service or security teams?

Volunteering is personally satisfying and rewarding, and an increasingly important component of philanthropic service in the U.S. Why not volunteer with an organization you know, doing work you love? To volunteer, contact us at [email protected].

There are many opportunities to contribute financially or in-kind as well. We can't say enough about the Northrop Grumman Science Center and the El Pomar Space Gallery, but we need to finish out the area we are expanding so that we can put even more items on display. And, we have plans to create additional branded attractions within the Visitors Center. For example, we're delighted to be working with corporate partner and Space Technology Hall of Fame® honoree DigitalGlobe to create a major, branded exhibit on remote sensing and commercial satellite imaging. We'd love to work with your organization on creating a permanent presence or branded exhibit within the center.

There's no substitute for cold cash. You can support us on an ongoing basis or with a one-time gift. Simple, personal giving - by phone, mail or on line - is easy at Bequests, memorials and gifts of life insurance are always welcome; contact Director - Development Linda Garrison, 719-576-8000 or via [email protected].

Of course, we need "stuff," too! Whether it's a space-related book for our library or a historic spacecraft looking for a permanent home, chances are that the Space Foundation can convert it from a "dust magnet" to a public treasure that helps engage, inform, educate and inspire the public. Already on exhibit are lunar hardware from the Kansas Cosmosphere; large-scale models from Northrop Grumman, United Launch Alliance and Arianespace; space suits from the U.S. and Russia; flown items and space foods from an astronaut donor.

We are approved by the General Services Administration to receive surplus government property and we have historic artifacts and items from NASA-KSC, NASA-JSC, NASA-JPL, Lockheed Martin, Ball Aerospace and Technologies, Sea Launch, Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne and others too numerous to mention waiting in the wings to display when we get additional funding for our new exhibit areas. Whether you have a surplus launch vehicle or a stored satellite that has become outdated and unlikely to fly, we may be able to turn your "hangar queen" into a high-impact focal point for formal and informal education.

To talk with us about an exhibit or artifact donation, contact Vice President - Operations Art Ratkewicz at [email protected].

The Space Foundation is a diverse and multi-faceted organization that operates on many levels - local, national, and international. Just as we've stepped into larger and larger national and international roles in the past decade, we're thrilled to be assuming a larger and more important role right here at home.

The View from Here is that, as long as they're space-related, even sea monsters can be a beautiful part of our education mission to inspire, enable and propel humanity. Space is a significant industry for the state of Colorado, and Colorado Springs is one of the most important space cities in the world. We look forward to working together with you to transform our home town into an even more significant space city - for the betterment of all human kind.

This article is part of Space Watch: February 2013 (Volume: 12, Issue: 2).