NM Astronaut Speaks Saturday

Alamogordo – Shuttle Astronaut Mike Mullane will give two special presentations at the Alamogordo Family Recreation Center gym on Saturday, Nov. 14.

A number of events will also be held at the New Mexico Museum of Space History.


9:00 - 9:20 Historic Rockets of White Sands Demonstration

9:20-9:35 Historic NASA Manned Space Vehicles Launch Demonstration

9:35-9:45 Apollo 12 Launch Reenactment

9:45-10:00 Guest Speaker Astronaut Mike Mullane

11:00 - 12:00 Special presentation by Astronaut Mullane in the gym at the Alamogordo Family Recreation Center - free to the public

2:00 - 3:00 Special presentation by Astronaut Mullane in the gym at the Alamogordo Family Recreation Center - free to the public

NASA tent will be open beginning at 9:00 am until 2:00 pm.

The City of Alamogordo and the Family Recreation Center partnered with the New Mexico Museum of Space History and FLARE (Fellowship of Las Cruces Rocketry Enthusiasts) to provide this exciting opportunity. Mullane's first presentation will be at 11:00 am and the second will be at 2:00 pm at the gym, both are free to the public. Alamogordo Mayor Ron Griggs will introduce Mullane at the 11:00 am presentation.

Mullane's presentation is entitled Countdown To A Dream, which delivers a powerful motivational message wrapped in an entertaining and educational space lesson. Mullane explains such baffling phenomenon as weightlessness (it's not because "there's no gravity" as most people think). He covers the topics that interest every child, and even adults: how does an astronaut eat, drink, sleep, and use the toilet. Kids howl with laughter when they learn that astronauts sometimes wear diapers. Among these and other space and science subjects, Mullane entwines messages of: dreaming big, always doing your best, taking care of your body and making education your number one priority. Countdown To A Dream includes spectacular NASA slides and video. Mullane commented, "I am a passionate believer that every child has the potential to embark on a dream-quest. Looking back on my life I can see I wasn't particularly gifted. Yet, a dream took root in my soul and, in spite of setbacks along the way, I was able to turn it into reality. I am convinced the same thing can happen to other children." Countdown To A Dream will excite kids about the potential of their own lives - the potential to soar on the wings of education.

Mullane will hold a book signing immediately following each presentation. He will also have copies of his book "Riding Rockets" for sale. "Riding Rockets" is a story of life in all its fateful uncertainty; of the impact of a family tragedy on a nine-year old boy; of the revelatory effect of a machine called Sputnik; and of the life-steering powers of lust, love, and marriage. The St. Louis Dispatch said, "A funny, harrowing, tragic, and often bawdy look at the psychology and science of space flight ."Riding Rockets" is a thrill from start to finish." The Rocky Mountain News said, "This is not your father's astronaut memoir. Mike Mullane pulls back the curtains on NASA "

Mullane is in Alamogordo as part of the 40th Anniversary of Apollo 12 commemorative launch event to be held at the New Mexico Museum of Space History on Saturday. The event, which includes the launch of model rockets reflecting the history of White Sands Missile Range, the Apollo Manned Spaceflight Program and a reenactment of the Apollo 12 launch, will be highlighted by the special appearance of Shuttle Astronaut Mike Mullane at 9:45 am. Commemorative activities will take place in the parking lot of the museum and will be free to the public. The event is part of a yearlong commemorative series held in partnership with the Museum and FLARE.

NASA will be on hand for the event. Leslie Williams, Public Affairs Specialist with the NASA Dryden Flight Research Center, will be representing NASA. The NASA display will feature models from NASA's Constellation space program that will be replacing the space shuttle program when the orbiters are retired. Leslie will be at the display and talk about the Orion crew exploration vehicle launch abort tests that will be done at White Sands Missile Range.

Spaceport America, represented by Aaron Prescott, will have a booth at the event. Prescott will update those in attendance on the progress of Spaceport America, the nation's first purpose built spaceport, which is currently under construction in southern New Mexico.

A special display is on loan for the event from the Franklin High School Marching Band from El Paso, TX. The Band Directors are Mr. Bruce Beach, Mr. Daniel Allen, and Mr. Mike Mendez. The band performed at the Tournament of Bands recently at NMSU. The theme of their performance was "For All Mankind". It was a tribute to the Apollo 11 mission and subsequent NASA space adventures. The display consists of a series of five-foot tall, seven-foot long panels with NASA photos from the Apollo 11 mission to the NASA Aries rocket constellation and will be located in the upper parking lot of the museum.

Visitors to the event will also be able to get close to the Sun without adding extra sun block. The National Solar Observatory will exhibit an 18-foot inflatable model of the Sun and models of the planets, all part of the 1-to-250-million scale Sunspot Solar System Model. NSO studies the Sun with telescopes in the Sacramento Mountains above Alamogordo and in Tucson and around the world. Dave Dooling, with NSO, will tell visitors what's up (or right now, "down") with the solar activity and why we need to know our local star.

Events begin with the "Rockets of White Sands" launch demonstration at 9:00 am, and the "Manned Space Program Space Vehicle" launch demonstration at 9:20 am. Museum of Space History Education Specialist Michael Shinabery will narrate the demonstrations. The demonstration rockets range from 12 inches to forty-five inches in height, with a maximum anticipated altitude of 1,200 feet. Astronaut Mike Mullane will speak at 9:45. A letter from Nancy Conrad, wife of Apollo 12 Astronaut Pete Conrad, will be read as part of the ceremony.

All of the activities taking place in the upper parking lot of the museum are free to the public. All activities are weather permitting; a back-up date is not planned.

FLARE member Dave Kovar was very enthusiastic about the partnership between the club and the museum for this commemoration. "The Apollo 12 commemoration has turned out to be the most exciting event that we've held all year. Astronaut Mullane's appearance will certainly be the highlight and we are all thrilled that he'll be here," said Kovar. According to Kovar the various rocket demonstrations are possible because of the hard work of many club members who built the scale models. Kovar built the Saturn 5 and launch gantry that will be launched.

The New Mexico Museum of Space History is a division of the NM Department of Cultural Affairs. For more information, call 505-437-2840 or toll free 1-877-333-6589 or visit the website at

Astronaut Mike Mullane bio:

Colonel Mullane was born September 10, 1945 in Wichita Falls, Texas but spent much of his youth in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where he currently resides. Upon his graduation from West Point in 1967, he was commissioned in the United States Air Force. As a Weapon Systems Operator aboard RF-4C Phantom aircraft, he completed 134 combat missions in Vietnam. He holds a Master's of Science Degree in Aeronautical Engineering from the Air Force Institute of Technology and is also a graduate of the Air Force Flight Test Engineer School at Edwards Air Force Base, California.

Mullane was selected as a Mission Specialist in 1978 in the first group of Space Shuttle Astronauts. He completed three space missions aboard the Shuttles Discovery (STS-41D) and Atlantis (STS-27 & 36) before retiring from NASA and the Air Force in 1990.

Mullane has been inducted into the International Space Hall of Fame and is the recipient of many awards, including the Air Force Distinguished Flying Cross, Legion of Merit and the NASA Space Flight Medal.

Since his retirement from NASA, Colonel Mullane has written an award-winning children's book, Liftoff! An Astronaut's Dream, and a popular space-fact book, Do Your Ears Pop In Space? His recently published memoir, Riding Rockets: The Outrageous Tales of a Space Shuttle Astronaut, (Scribner, hardcover), has been reviewed in the New York Times and on the Jon Stewart Daily Show.

Colonel Mullane has established himself as an acclaimed professional speaker on the topics of teamwork, leadership and safety. He has educated, entertained, inspired and thrilled tens of thousands of people from every walk of business and government with his incredibly unique programs.


Apollo 12, the second manned mission to land on the Moon, was planned and executed as a precision landing. The astronauts landed the Lunar Module within walking distance of the Surveyor III spacecraft, which had landed on the Moon in April of 1967. The astronauts brought instruments from Surveyor III back to Earth to examine the effects of long-term exposure to the lunar environment.

The Apollo 12 mission objective was to perform detailed scientific lunar exploration. The space vehicle with a crew of Charles (Pete) Conrad, Jr., the commander; Richard F. Gordon, the command module pilot; and Alan L. Bean, the lunar module pilot, was launched from Kennedy Space Center, Fla., at 11:22:00 EST on November 14, 1969.

A precision landing was made using automatic guidance, with only small manual corrections required in the final phases of descent. Touchdown occurred at 110.5 hr ground elapsed time (GET), at a point only 600 feet (183 meters) from the target point, the Surveyor III spacecraft. The landing was in the Ocean of Storms.

This precision landing was of great significance to the future lunar exploration program, because landing points in rough terrain of great scientific interest could now be targeted.

The first of two planned extravehicular activity (EVA) periods began at 115 hr GET. A color television camera mounted on the descent stage provided live television coverage of the descent of both astronauts to the lunar surface. Television coverage was subsequently lost because of the inadvertent pointing of the camera at the Sun.

The crew emplaced the U.S. flag and the solar-wind composition experiment. They collected lunar samples and core-tube specimens during this first EVA period, which lasted approximately four hours.

Following a seven-hour rest period, the second EVA period began at 131.5 hr GET. The two astronauts started a geology traverse. The traverse covered approximately 4300 feet (1311 meters) and lasted 3 hours and 50 minutes. During the traverse, documented samples, core-tube samples, trench site samples, and gas analysis samples were collected.

The Apollo 12 samples were mostly basalts, dark-colored igneous rocks, and they were hundreds of millions of years younger than the rocks collected on Apollo 11.

The crew photographed Surveyor III, which landed on the lunar surface in April 1967, and retrieved a painted tube, an unpainted tube, the Surveyor III scoop and the television camera. The television camera is now on display in the National Air and Space Museum's "Exploring The Planets" gallery.

Another rest period and a final checkout preceded the liftoff of the lunar module ascent stage at 142 hr GET. Following crew transfer, the ascent stage was remotely guided to impact on the lunar surface to provide an active seismic source for the passive seismic experiment that had been emplaced. The command module landed in the Pacific Ocean at 244.5 hr GET.