The following excerpts from "Geology on the Moon" describe training activities for the Apollo 15 astronauts:
"Basic geology was still central, but the exercises became more and more like dress rehearsals for the real thing. Traverses--or the routes over which the crews would pass--were crefully thought out in advance. The crews worked from assigned maps like those carried on the actual mission, and there were assigned stations along the traverse, each station with its required tasks, each to be reached by a time specified in advance. Two science backrooms (one apiece for the prime and backup crews) were added to provide radio communications to and from the astronauts during the exercise. This wrinkle not only provided a higher degree of realism, but it also enabled crews and flight directors to apply considerable polish toward a more smoothly functioning communications system at mission time....
To simulate conditions that the Apollo 15 crew would confront at Hadley Rille, exercises were run at the rugged Rio Grande Gorge [west of Taos, New Mexico]. Camera equipment was identical to that selected for the flight. Maps were simulated in the same format to be used on the lunar surface. The USGS staff prepared stations and technical problems that were facsimiles of those anticipated along the actual traverse. Exercises themselves took place at the precise time of day that duplicated light angles on the Moon."
This excerpt is from Loretta Hall's new children's book, Miguel & Michelle Visit Spaceport America, for ages 6-10:
"You said rockets can take off here," Miguel said to the tour guide. "But I thought rockets blasted off straight up, not taking off on a runway."
"That's right. The spaceport has a vertical takeoff area too. It's about five miles southeast of here."
"What kinds of things do the rockets take to space?" Michelle asked.
"Usually two kinds of things," the tour guide answered. "Some are parts for satellites or other spaceships that the government or a company wants to test before they actually use them. Others are experiments designed and built by students so they can learn about the atmosphere or cosmic radiation and also learn about flying experiments on rockets."
"Could I send my Batman action figure for a ride?" Miguel asked.
The tour guide chuckled. "Maybe, but you would have to pay for it."
This excerpt is from Animal Astronauts: They Opened the Way to the Stars (Bergwin & Coleman, Prentice-Hall, 1963):
They have no names, just numbers. But not for long, because each develops a distinct personality and soon is identified informally by a moniker suitable to his or her basic characteristics. It could be Minnie, Tiger, Elvis, Ham [who took the first suborbital flight of the Mercury Program] or Enos [who took the first orbital Mercury flight].
When they arrive at Holloman [Air Force Base in Alamogordo, NM], ... they are just a few months old. Training must start at an early age....
The nylon vests and restrain suits are tailored to individual size to fit snugly about the body of each chimpanzee. Designed and fabricated by the Aerospace Medical Laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base [in Dayton, Ohio], these vests and suits became known as "space suits," and it only followed that the animals were referred to as "chimponauts." The suits are required in holding in place various sensors and recording devices, catheter and other devices for registering physiological data such as pulse, respiration rates, electrocardiogram readings, and so on while the animal is engaged in space flight, real or simulated....
There was a case of a visiting Congressman at Holloman who had witnessed a chimpanzee concluding an exercise run of 7,000 responses, missing only 20. The Congressman then tried and made mistakes immediately, not doing near as well as the chimp. This was not a fair test for man, though. But it clearly shows the amazing ability of the chimpanzee to learn and to retain what he has learned.
I'm standing in the middle of "the center of the known universe," as this room is sometimes called. And in a way, it feels like that's actually where I am.
That's because I'm in the control center of the Very Large Array, a collection of 27 dish antennas, each of which weighs 230 tons and has a diameter of 25 meters [82 feet]....
The VLA as it's known, is a true sight to behold. It is located at 6,970 feet in the Plains of San Agustin, about 50 miles west of Socorro, NM....
This is awesome country, with gorgeous brown and tan mountains, a huge sky and, it turns out, some of the most advanced and prodigious scientific equipment the world has ever known....
Together, the 27 antennas combine to create the resolution of a single antenna 22 miles across, withth esensitivity of a dish 130 meters [427 feet] in diameter.
Note: After an upgrade completed in 2010, the VLA was renamed the Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array.
This excerpt is from "Clyde Tombaugh: Character of New Mexico" by Loretta Hall in Voices of New Mexico, Too (Rio Grande Books, 2012):
Clyde Tombaugh was quite a character. A shy astronomer more attuned to solitary research than frivolous small talk, he nevertheless tried to be personable. More than fifteen years before the first man flew into space, Tombaugh was at a party when he decided to perform an impromptu experiment to see whether an astronaut would be able to swallow food in zero gravity. "Proved it by standing on my head and eating a cracker!" he said....
But it is Tombaugh's professional accomplishments that embody the character of New Mexico. Already famous for having discovered the planet Pluto in 1930, Tombaugh came to White Sands Proving Ground in 1946 thinking his career in astronomy might be finished.... The job in New Mexico offered him a different direction and a chance to contribute to the new challenge of space exploration. Rather than studying celestial objects, he applied his skills of designing and building specialized telescopes to observing and filming rockets that were launched at White Sands. The most spectacular of those rockets were the V-2 missiles that were turned over to the US Army by the German engineers who had designed them as war weapons for Hitler's use. More than 100 of the Germans, including Wernher von Braun, surrendered to America in order to help build this country's manned space program....
In his later years, Tombaugh reflected on his productive career. "Everyone thinks the greatest thing I did was to discover Pluto," he said. AThis was somewhat disappointing because I did things that were fully equal to Pluto. The work out there [at White Sands], the study of Mars, finding the supercluster of galaxies. But all they think of is Pluto. This is a disappointment in that the public did not attach importance to the other things that I did....
Perhaps the greatest tribute to Clyde Tombaugh is that a portion of his cremains are being carried on the New Horizons spacecraft. The unmanned vehicle, launched in 2006, [passed within 7,800] miles of Pluto in July 2015.
Bon voyage, Clyde.
The following excerpt is from "A Flying Leap over White Sands," by Loretta Hall, in Voices of New Mexico (Rio Grande Books, 2011):
No one told Joe Kittinger to "take a flying leap," he volunteered for it. Three times.
That didn't surprise people who knew him. He had volunteered for exciting, dangerous missions before. "Most of my life, everything I've ever done was done because I volunteered," Kittinger said in a speech at the National Museum of the Air Force in April 2009....
[In November 1959, Kittinger performed the first manned test of a new high-altitude parachute system by jumping out of a helium balloon's gondola at an altitude of 76,400 feet (14.5 miles).]
"We launched from a little town called Truth or Consequences, New Mexico," Kittinger said at the Air Force museum. "I always thought that was pretty appropriate 'cause if we didn't have the truth, we were going to have to bear the consequences."
The balloon rose gracefully to the desired height. But when it was time to jump, an equipment malfunction kept Kittinger stuck to his seat. "I couldn't stand up," he said. "I was trapped in the gondola." Struggling to free himself, he finally pulled loose and stepped out of the gondola. During the struggle, the timer for the parachute system was activated and the small, stabilization chute opened fourteen seconds too soon. He wasn't falling fast enough, yet, to fill the chute with air, and its lines wrapped around his neck. With the small chute unable to open, Kittinger fell flat and began to spin.
"At first, I thought I might retard the free spin that began to envelop me, but despite my efforts I whirled faster and faster," he wrote. "Soon I knew there was nothing I could do. I thought this was the end. I began to pray, and then I lost consciousness."
When the main chute opened automatically at 18,000 feet, it tangled with the small chute's lines and wrapped around Kittinger, who was spinning at 120 revolutions per minute. He continued to plunge toward the ground. Fortunately, he was wearing a separate backup parachute, which opened automatically at 10,000 feet and deployed properly. "When I came to, I was floating lazily down beneath the beautiful canopy of the emergency chute."
=== The following excerpt is from UFOs Over New Mexico by Preston Dennett (Schiffer, 2011).
Of all the states in the United States, New Mexico has one of the most complex histories of UFO and extraterrestrial encounters. Sightings began as early as 1880. However, it wasn't until the arrival of the Atomic Age in 1945 that UFO activity exploded. Perhaps because of its research into atomics, the state of New Mexico---in some ways perhaps more than any other state---became the focused target of the UFO phenomenon....
The first sightings to gather widespread attention occurred in 1947, when a gigantic UFO super-wave swept across the United States. In New Mexico, much of the activity was concentrated over military and atomic installation. This was also the year of the now-famous Roswell UFO crash, forever putting New Mexico on the front lines of UFO research.
In 1949 and 1950, New Mexico was uniquely targeted by a wave of mysterious green fireballs---causing great concern at high levels of the Air Force.
The 1950s and 1960s brought dozens of "classic cases" including the Farmington UFO display, the Socorro Landing, continuing visitations over White Sands, Holloman AFB, Kirtland AFB and other sensitive installations, dozens on car-stalling cases, UFO-car chases, the abduction of Sergeant Charles Moody, the contacts of Dr. Daniel Fry, several new UFO crash/retrieval cases, and a growing number of civilian cases. From 1948 to 1965, Project Blue Book investigated scores of New Mexico cases, more than two dozen of which remain unidentified.
The 1970s brought a new twist with the arrival of cattle mutilations....
The 1980s brought more sighting, landings and abductions, and rumors of underground alien bases, the unique "Taos Hum," and the deepening mystery of animal mutilations.
The next two decades produced virtually the entire range of the UFO phenomenon. New Mexico, although one of the less population states, ranks well above average in the number of UFO sightings as compared to other states....