Apollo 15 40th Anniversary Commemorative Event
It was a bright blue, beautiful New Mexico day, perfect for commemorating a historical event. The Fellowship of Las Cruces Area Rocketry Enthusiasts (FLARE), Spaceport Model Rocketry Association (SMRA ), and the Alabama Space Grant
Consortium teamed up to commemorate the 40th Anniversary of the Apollo 15 mission as part of the NASA Advanced Rocketry Workshop on a small rocket launch pad located near Alamogordo, NM.
In case you’ve forgotten or never knew, Apollo 15 was the ninth manned mission in the American Apollo Space Program, the fourth to land on the Moon and the eighth successful manned mission. It was the first of what were termed "J missions", long duration stays on the Moon with a greater focus on science than had been possible on previous missions. It was also the first mission
where the Lunar Roving Vehicle was used.
The mission began on July 26, 1971, and concluded on August 7. NASA called it the most successful manned flight ever achieved. Commander David Scott and Lunar Module Pilot James Irwin spent three days on the Moon and a total of 18½ hours outside the spacecraft on lunar extra‐vehicular activity. At the end of the last Apollo 15 moon walk, Commander David Scott performed a live demonstration for the television cameras. He held out a geologic hammer and a feather and dropped them at the same
time. Because they were essentially in a vacuum, there was no air resistance and the feather fell at the same rate as the hammer, as Galileo had concluded hundreds of years before ‐ all objects released together fall at the same rate regardless of mass. (Joe Allen, NASA SP‐289, Apollo 15 Preliminary Science Report, Summary of Scientific Results, p. 2‐11.)
The audience for this event was group of dedicated students and instructors for the NASA Advanced Rocketry Workshop, just concluded in Las Cruces. The forty‐five participants included instructors and programs support people from the Marshall Space Flight Center and the Alabama Space Grant Consortium, both of Huntsville, Alabama. The students and educators participating from twelve states launched brand new rockets that they had just built and decorated at the workshop. The workshop also provided detailed information about participation in the NASA Student Launch Projects, an 8‐month commitment that challenges students to design, build, and launch a reusable rocket to 1 mile above ground level with a scientific or engineering payload.
“It’s fun!” Cody (a student from Albuquerque) wrapped up the entire participant mood at the Advanced Rocketry Workshop in two words. Cody, in preparation to the launch, joined other students and adult mentors in preparing their rockets carefully for high powered launch, filling out their certification forms, and passing safety inspections for their flights.
From NASA White Sands Test Facility and FLARE members/volunteers were: Thomas Kindig, Dave Kovar, Peter Hughes, Lee Dexter, Gloria Kindig, Denzil Burnam, Hugh Malcolm, Jon Burtka, Jim Phillips, and Ret. NASA employee Pleddie Baker.
“The next Apollo 16 40th Anniversary Commemoration FLARE/Southern New Mexico Science, Engineering, Mathematics, and Aerospace Academy (SEMAA) event promises former NASA Apollo Flight Director Gene Kranz and Apollo 16 Astronaut Charlie Duke on the speaker stage which will take place in March 2012 at New Mexico State University. NASA White Sands Test Facility will play a prominent role in the success of this event. The artifacts that WSTF provides in their displays for this event are amazing,
and they place this event at a new level in education outreach,” said David Kovar, FLARE Apollo 40 Event Director.
Cheerie R. Patneaude
NASA JSC White Sands Test Facility