Astronauts from NASA will land across the Valley to participate in events for the public in the coming weeks. The astronauts, specifically chosen by NASA for these events, are in Arizona to promote and raise awareness on space programs and exploration — just as the state’s “SciTech Festival” fires its boosters.
• On Feb. 20, Dr. Leroy Chiao, a former NASA astronaut, will be on hand for the 2013 John J. Rhodes Lecture at the Tempe Center for Arts. The lecture is presented by Arizona State University’s Barrett: The Honors College, and is titled “Warp Speed: How Technology is Accelarating and the Importance of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Education.” Chiao, apart from his work at NASA, has three degrees in Chemical Engineering and a security clearance for nuclear weapons work at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. The event will start at 7 p.m. (it ends at 8 p.m.) and is free to the public.
• On Feb. 24, Capt. Sunita Williams and Dr. Richard M. Linnehan will land at the Arizona Museum of Natural History in Mesa. As part of the Arizona SciTech Festival and the ongoing ISS Destination exhibit, Williams and Linnehan will speak and greet the public on Sunday. The event will start at 1 p.m. and end at 4 p.m. At 1:45, Williams will discuss her experiences with NASA while Linnehan will welcome the public in the exhibit and give out autographs and take photos; at 3 p.m. the astronauts will trade places. The event will also feature the ASU Astronomy Club, ASU Center for Meteorite Studies, the East Valley Astronomy Club, Mesa Community College Geology Club and NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, which will be on hand to host space-related activities for the public to enjoy. There is a $10 fee for the general public and it will be free for AzMNH members.
• On Feb. 25, Linnehan will attend the East Valley Aviation & Aerospace Alliance Networking Event at the Commemorative Air Force Museum in Mesa. The event will run from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. and is free to the public, although RSVP is required. The purpose of the event is for people to network, recruit and to be educated. Linnehan will speak at the event about his experiences with NASA and later will sign autographs. To RSVP, contact Carol Schmitz at email@example.com. The event is sponsored by the Commemorative Air Force Museum and the Mesa Chamber of Commerce.
• On Feb. 26, astronaut Don Petitt will attend ASU SkySong in Scottsdale for a lunch presentation. Although the event is open to the public, it is more targeted to business and academic leaders, as the presentations and panel discussions will be about how to get projects involved with International Space Station and for educational opportunities.
• On Feb. 28, astronaut Catherine “Cady” Coleman will attend Mesa Community College’s Southern and Dobson Campus to talk about her experience onboard the international space station. The event will run from 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. and will include a talk with Coleman, a chance for autographs and planetarium showings. The event is free and open to the community.
Mike Hutchinson, the project manager for EVAAA wants the public to attend his and other events to learn more about the space program and have a chance to be part of it. “For me, I remember the space program was a big part of our lives during the 60s, I remember where I was when we landed on the moon. I really want for younger generations to be able to share this feeling,” Hutchinson said.
Abel, a senior studying journalism at Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, is an intern for the East Valley Tribune. Contact him at (480) 898-6514 or firstname.lastname@example.org.