TSM’s Army Sweeps Across America --One Last Time!

The Callaway High School Color Guard at Space Day opening ceremonies at Watkins Elementary in Jackson MS. (Watkins photos by David Schommer)

In a military-style maneuver that would have made General Patton’s 3rd Army proud, the Traveling Space Museum dashed across the country-coast-to-coast, covering more ground and inspiring more young people than any other space education organization in many a year! And they took no prisoners!

Traveling Space Museum appeared in four Space Day events in seven days with more than 10,000 students attending! TSM then pushed on eastward in preparation for another huge event in Maryland –the Open House at Goddard Space Flight Center that expects to draw more then 10,000 attendees in early May!

Beginning with a pre-dawn drive from Los Angeles to Mountain View in California, the Traveling Space Museum finished the first leg of the cross-country odyssey as a featured attraction at the NASA Ames Education Day on April 8th. The NASA event, otherwise known as “Yuri’s Day,” commemorated the 50th anniversary manned space flight and Yuri Gagarin flight into space officially celebrated on April 12th. With more than 6,000 attendees, the event was one of the Research Center’s most successful events to date.

Students line up for a ride aboard TSM’s Orion CRV Flight Simulator

All aspects of flight were showcased from a mighty C-130 Hercules Transport Aircraft to TSM’s own half-scale replica of the bi-level kite designed and built by the Wright Brothers. Although TSM’s Wright Kite has a 12-foot wingspan, the original kite had a 24 foot-long wingspan that carried aloft both Orville and Wilber long before they built their famous Flyer. Other TSM crowd pleasers on display were the Orion flight simulator, space toilet, a hovercraft demonstration and the BD-5J Micro jet.

A C-130 Hercules Air transport –inside and out.

The C-130 Hercules, built by Lockheed-Martin, was of particular interest to TSM and a joy to inspect. As interest in bringing TSM shows overseas increases, it may not be long before the TSM trailer is expected to spouts wings!

After the NASA Ames event, the TSM trekked across I-40 to do three Space Days in public schools: Watkins Elementary, Wingfield High School in Jackson Mississippi and Byram Middle School in Terry Mississippi. The Space Days were sponsored by Jackson State University–one of five historically black colleges in the state. From the very minute she heard about Traveling Space Museum, Dr. Pamela Heard, the NASA resource advisor at Jackson State, worked tirelessly to make these Space Days possible.

Captain Michelle Scott, a C-17 jet pilot with the Mississippi Air National Guard (172nd Airlift Wing) discusses flight and career paths with Watkins students.

Unique to these Space Days was the use of Jackson State undergraduate students who served as role models. Several added their own personal stories of academic successes as well as career path advice to the exhibit demonstrations.

An Air National Guard helicopter is also on display at Watkins Elementary

After Jackson MS. the TSM continued on to Maryland completing the cross-country campaign. The exhibits of this show will remain on the east coast and become the anchor of a permanent show to be based in the Washington DC area. Never again will TSM trek across the country; TSM will have two touring companies to divide the country and keep the costs of a Space Day show down for everyone. Winning the battle to control costs could prove to be TSM’s biggest victory to date!