The 40th Anniversary of the Apollo program
This series of commemorative rocket launch flights are staged by FLARE, the Fellowship of Las Cruces Area Rocketry Enthusiasts. We will launch scale models of both Historic White Sands rocketships, and Apollo era spacecraft.
Apollo 9 Commemoration
Tuesday March 3rd, 2009
Las Cruces Education Day
LAS CRUCES — Following a 4-3-2-1 countdown, a scaled-down version of the historic Saturn V rocket blasted into the air east of the New Mexico State University Aggie Memorial Stadium on Tuesday March 3rd , 2009, as over 450 middle schoolers and other spectators watched. There were plenty of shrieks as the mighty Saturn V sailed through the air, reached a peak and deployed parachutes that carried it safely back to the ground. Some students even snapped photos with their cell phones. It's the kind of interest David Kovar, a member of the Fellowship of Las Cruces Area Rocketry Enthusiasts, or FLARE, hoped to see when he helped coordinatethe rocket launch with local middle schools. "Look at these kids out here; they're just having a blast, and that's what makes it worthwhile," he said. March 3rd , 2009 was the 40th anniversary of the launch of the Apollo 9 mission from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The flight, propelled by the Saturn V rocket, was a precursor to the mission that landed the first men on the moon in 1969. The launch was the second of five events being hosted this year by the rocketry group.They're aimed at marking key historic launches that culminated in the lunar landing. In addition to the Saturn V, the club launched a number of other scale replicas of historic White Sands missiles and NASA Manned rockets.
Students from Las Cruces, and Deming, New Mexico, area middle schools also launched rockets they'd constructed themselves. Berbandy Yañez, a sixth-grader from Las Cruces, said she was concerned her rocket wouldn't fly because it fell apart several times during construction. However, she said, it stayed in one piece. "It turned out really cool," said Yañez of the field trip.
Kathleen Guitar, a middle school science teacher, said such events help stir interest in students because it shows them how what they learn in the classroom can be used in future careers. "We've got the Spaceport opening in Southern New Mexico, and we just need to get the kids interested in math, science and technology," she said. "When they see what it's all about, it's definitely motivating to them." Gloria Kindig, a bilingual teacher and a member of FLARE, had similar thoughts. "We wanted everybody to have fun and go back to school and think about careers in science, math and technology," said Kindig, dressed in a blue astronaut jumpsuit. "Because they are the future of this society, and we want them to be prepared."
Steve Landeene, Director of Spaceport America, addressed the importance of the Apolloprogram to New Mexico and how that relates to the future of space commercialization in the state.
Students also heard from Don McMorris, 71, of Tularosa, New Mexico who spoke about his experience working as a technician with the Apollo missions in the 1960s. The dedication and drive of crews as they worked toward the goal of reaching the moon is something that has influenced his life ever since, he said.
"When I saw that one go today — that was the first time I'd seen a Saturn V lift-off since I left (Cape Canaveral)," he said. "I can't help but get a little bit teary-eyed when I see it. It was just such a thrill."
The third event, to mark the Apollo 10 mission, is slated for May 17 in Las Cruces. The Apollo 11 commemoration will be a 4 day event held July 16-20 at the New Mexico Museum of Space History in Alamogordo, New Mexico. The final event for the year will be held November 14-15 to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 12 mission. For more information, go to www.apollo40.org.
Author; Diana M. Alba - Las Cruces Sun News.