Monday, March 7, 2016

New Mexico Museum of Space History, Alamogordo, New Mexico

A visit to Alamogordo, New Mexico, is not complete without a visit to the New Mexico Museum of Space History. You might ask why locate such a museum in Almogordo, New Mexico. But what state is more associated with space age activities than New Mexico? Think of Los Alamos, Trinity Site, Roswell, and all the other places around the state associated with the space age.

The museum complex sits on a slope of the Sacremento Mountains. The tall building in the center is the main museum, and the building with the torquise top is the Imax Theater.
The museum is actually a complex on the western slopes of the Sacremento Mountains on the eastern edge of Alamogordo. Views in all directions are really impressive. The main building is the place to start your tour. Just outside the main building is the John P. Stapp Air and Space Park, which displays larger exhibits. Inside the main building is the Museum of Space History and the International Space Hall of Fame. The Museum of Space History contains exhibits such as Robert Goddard's early rocket experiments near Roswell. The International Space Hall of Fame honors those men and women who have been instrumental in our attempts to conquer space.

The John P. Stapp Air Park sits just outside the main building. It contains larger exhibits.


This is Little Joe 2. It was used to test the Apollo launch escape system.

This is the Vengeance Weapon 2, the world's first long-range ballistic missile. The "V-2" was used by Germany near the end of World War II as a weapon of terror against Allied targets. After the war, German scientists helped the US military develop this technology. This particular exhibit was used in testing in nearby White Sands and was recovered from there.
The main museum is a 4 story building. I enjoyed its uniqueness. After paying our admission fee, we were directed to use the elevator to go up to the 4th floor to begin the tour. When the elevator opened, we were delighted to see that it looked like a control center, complete with sound effects. At the top floor, you pass through numerous smaller exhibits. Once you finish viewing all the exhibits on a floor, you take a ramp down to the next level and the next set of exhibits.

This is actually the inside of the elevator.

This moon rock was collected by Apollo 17 Astronaut Harrison Schmitt. Technically, it is mare basalt. It is believed to be 3.7 billion years old. 
This is a space suttle simulator. You can sit at the controls and, by using the throttle and the monitors, attempt to land the space shuttle. I failed miserably and crashed the space shuttle. Security escorted me out. They told me I was better suited to use the exhibit pictured below.

Skylab toilet
Down the hill from the main museum is the Imax Theater. At the time of our visit, the theater was showing 3 movies: Sea Monsters: A Prehistoric Adventure, Digital Star Show, and Tornado Alley. We opted for Tornado Alley, and I really enjoyed this informational film, especially since our home is not that far from Tornado Alley. It followed the attempts of two separate teams to chase down developing tornadoes to collect data and footage.

Overall, the museum is a good way to spend half a day or so. It is a one-of-a-kind museum, and it has some unique items.

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