LAS CRUCES, N.M. – Gene Kranz (White Flight Director who is most notably remembered for being the Director for the Apollo 11 Moon Landing and Apollo 13 Tiger Team Flight Director) and Charlie Duke (the 10th human to walk on the Moon, Apollo 11 Capsule Communications and Apollo 16 Lunar Module Pilot) will be the guest speakers at the Apollo 16 40th Anniversary Commemoration to be held March 8-10, 2012, in Las Cruces and Alamogordo.
The event will celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 16 mission (the eighth of the Apollo missions to fly to the Moon). On Thursday March 8th, two special showings of the Tom Hanks movie Apollo 13 will be held at the Allen Theatres Cineport 10 Theater in Las Cruces, at 4:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Kranz and Duke will make a special appearance after the first showing. They will hold a discussion about the Apollo program which will be moderated by Mike Shinabery, Education Specialist with the New Mexico Museum of Space History. The cost for this event is $20/person. All proceeds from ticket sales go to Habitat for Humanity on behalf of Gene Kranz and to the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation on behalf of Charlie Duke. Tickets for the movie are only available at www.apollo40.org.
On Friday March 9th, the actual Apollo 16 40th Anniversary Commemoration Event will be held at the NMSU Campus in Las Cruces. The event will start at 9:30 am at the Aggie Memorial Stadium East Parking Lot. Activities include launch demonstrations of scale replicas of some historic White Sands Rockets (V-2, Wac Corporal, and Little Joe II) as well as vehicles from the NASA manned space program (Mercury-Redstone, Mercury-Atlas, Thor-Agena, Atlas-Agena, Gemini-Titan, Saturn IB, and Space Shuttle). Highlights will be a celebration of the 50th Anniversary of John Glenn's Friendship 7 flight, a special launch honoring the Space Shuttle Program, and a launch reenactment of the Apollo 16 Saturn V Moon rocket launched from a working replica of Launch Complex 39.
The rest of the day's activities will be held at the Pan Am Center and will include hands-on and static displays from Spaceport America, the Las Cruces Natural History Museum, the New Mexico Museum of Space History, White Sands Test Facility, the National Solar Observatory, and the Fellowship of Las Cruces Area Rocketry Enthusiasts (FLARE) just to name a few.
The highlight of the day will be a presentation by both Charlie Duke and Gene Kranz at the Pan Am Center. The topic of the presentation will be "Inventing the Future," and focus on the challenges of getting the Apollo program off the ground and how students of today can take the next giant leap into space. The program will be moderated by Michael Shinabery. The Friday activities are free to the public.
On Saturday March 10th, Gene Kranz will be making a guest appearance at the New Mexico Museum of Space History in Alamogordo.
This event is being organized by both FLARE member Dave Kovar and by the Southern New Mexico Science Engineering Mathematics and Aerospace Academy (SEMAA) Assistant Director Laura Lomas-Tomlinson. "I thoroughly enjoy working with Laura in making these education and outreach opportunities for Southern New Mexico SEMAA students," said Kovar. "I hope that it gets them excited about a potential career in science and space exploration. How could you not get excited about a career in space after hearing from two history makers who played such a significant role in our nation's exploration of space. How often do you get a chance to meet one of 12 humans who has walked on the Moon or shake the hand of the individual who put Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin within landing range of the Moon," he added.
This event will probably be the largest attended Apollo 16 40th Anniversary Commemoration in the nation with more than 1,200 SEMAA students in attendance plus the general public. Besides FLARE and SEMAA, this huge community effort includes Allen Theatres, the New Mexico Museum of Space History, White Sands Test Facility, NMSU, White Sands Missile Range, the Las Cruces Natural History Museum, Holloman AFB, Spaceport America, NM Space Grant Consortium, and the National Solar Observatory just to name a few. "When we held our first Apollo 40th Anniversary Commemoration back in December 2008 to celebrate Apollo 8, we had maybe 25-30 in attendance. Now for Apollo 16, we are expecting nearly 2000 to participate in this three day celebration. For me, this is a childhood dream come true," said Kovar.
The New Mexico Museum of Space History is a division of the NM Department of Cultural Affairs. For more information, call 575-437-2840 or toll free 1-877-333-6589 or visit the website at www.nmspacemuseum.org.
Nestled in the Mesilla Valley between the Rio Grande River and Organ Mountains, Las Cruces, New Mexico is quickly becoming a popular southwestern destination. Visitors can experience 72 holes of spectacular year-round golf and world-class Mexican food. Las Cruces blends a unique variety of special events, attractions, culture and historical sites, as well as superb weather, with 350 days of sunshine per year. For more information on all Las Cruces has to offer, contact the Las Cruces Convention & Visitors Bureau at (575) 541-2150 or visit www.StaySunny.org.