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Day 163 - Backtracking to Deming (Photo's Added)

We did visit the Rocket & Space Museum as well as the White Sands Missle Museum, then headed back to Deming (long story there...)

sunny 70 °F

I'm sorry I didn't update the Blog sooner, I think I was just a little embarrassed at how many times we change our minds on this trip! When we got to Alamogordo yesterday, Mom started to worry about the weather in Grand Canyon. I checked the forecast on the internet and found that a storm was forecasted to hit on Thursday, about when we'd be at the Canyon de Chelly. So she wanted to head south again instead. I wasn't as concerned about the weather as she was, but was concerned about how far we would be driving around to visit both these canyons since there doesn't appear to be any direct roads between them. Since we were still a lot closer to I-10 then we were to Albuquerque (49 vs 215 miles), I agreed to turn around and go back to the southern route and skip Canyon de Chelly. We can decide whether to visit Grand Canyon or not once we get to Phoenix.

So having made that decision, we decided to focus on Alamogordo. Up the hills a bit from the campground, we had an excellant view of the city and the white sand dunes across the valley. The dunes are pretty up close, but from a distance, it's much easier to see just how big they really are (275 sq miles).

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The reason I wanted to go there in the first place was to visit the New Mexico Museum of Space History. This was on a hill a short distance from where we'd camped and is quite visible from most area's of the city.

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This was actually created by the State of New Mexico. The purpose is to educate people about the history, science and technology of space with a special emphasis on the role of New Mexico in space exploration. I had started off the day in a bit of a funk, maybe a little under he weather. By the time I got done with the museum I was back in business - it really was pretty nice. Even Mom enjoyed it, although she finished it a lot faster then I did (as usual).

The outside exhibits include a number of rockets and space related equipment. They looked interesting, but to be honest we spent so much time inside that I didn't get to see the exterior exhibits much. The inside of the 5 story building is almost entirely devoted to the museum. Once you buy a ticket, you take the elevator up to the top floor and slowly work your way down. Each of the four exhibit floors is devoted to a different aspect of space history or exploration. There are ramps between the floors which are lined with plaques to honor the different people inducted into the "International Space Hall of Fame".

This picture shows an Aerobee 150 Sustainer on exhibit. These were solid fuel research rockets used between 1947 and 1985 to carry instruments into the upper atmosphere. If you look carefully at the wall along the bottom, you can see some of the many Space Hall of Fame plaques.

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Here is a close up of just one of the plaques, but there were many, including astronauts, scientists and other pioneers. People from many different countries are represented.

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Another exhibit I thought was rather interesting was the space capsule and suit for Ham, the first chimpanzee in space. Ham lived to the ripe old age of 27 and is buried at the Museum.

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Mom also got into the act, playing like she was on a Space Shuttle mission!

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One entire floor was devoted to Satellites, there were several examples of actual satellites used in space and signs explaining the types: Scientific, Navigation and Communications. This giant one was hanging from the ceiling (I forgot to take a picture of the sign, but I think it's a communication satellite.)

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Here is a fuel cell from the Apollo spacecrafts. Note the tags located on various components? The Museum takes its mission to educate very seriously, so the exhibits aren't just on display, but are well labeled or have excellant signage to help the visitor understand the exhibit. This fuel cell was one of three used to power both the Apollo Command Module and the Service Module. They weighed 245 lbs each and provided 28 Volts of 1.5 kW power. They used Cyrogenic Oxygen and Hydrogen to produce electricity, which created a byproduct of Water - also very essential to the Apollo astronauts.

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Some displays didn't contain historic spacecraft or items, but were just to inform. This is part of a large wall mural about different types of rockets. It is just one small example of the types of information available.

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Maybe I should have allocated more than a few hours to the museum? By the time I got to the bottom, I was completely cured from the funk I'd been in earlier and was tempted to go back to the top and start over again. But that wouldn't be very practical, so we headed on out. Before we left town however, I stopped at a quick lube place and had the rig serviced, should be good for another 5k or so.

Since we'd decided to drive back to I-10, we again passed the White Sands Missile Range (WSMR). By this time, my insurance agent had emailed me the missing Proof Of Insurance card, so today we were able to visit the Museum (unlike yesterday). My funk was completely cured by now and I visited just about every exhibit. Mom even went through the museum (she often skips military type stuff). The first thing you notice is an expansive "Missile Park" on the outside grounds. This displays a number of the missiles and rockets that were tested at WSMR. Each one has a large sign which displays quite a bit of information about the item on display.

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The rest of the Museum is housed in two buildings, a smaller one devoted to the V2 Rocket, and a larger one for the main Museum. This is the V2 building, but both buildings have a similar look and style.

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When we went through the main museum, I was surprised to find several smaller rooms devoted to exhibits about the Native Americans, Ranchers and Pioneer Women in the basin before the WSMR was created. These consisted of a few artifacts, but mostly signs and posters such as this.

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Inside the main room were several different types of missiles that had been tested at WSMR. Of course, each item had a sign describing what it was and when/how it was used or tested.

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In addition to missiles, several displays showed more about the equipment and tools used for missile testing. In honor of my dad, I just had to show you this picture of a round slide rule. This was used by German engineers to calculate rocket trajectories prior to the development of electronic computers and calculators.

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There was also this nifty little display that dad would have loved:

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This is an example of the signage and display for Radiation Test Equipment to give you another idea of the type of information available.

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They also have a complete VEGA station set up. This was used to control up to two separate targets beginning in 1973.

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The Museum also has a 1/3 scale model of "The Gadget", the first nuclear device as it looked fully assembled atop the tower at ground zero.

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The separate V2 building has one of the original V2 rockets inside.

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The back side has large area's cut-away to show the fuel tanks and engine.

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The walls are covered with posters about the V2 and the testing program and WSMR. I took a lot of pictures of these, but only uploaded these two as to not overload the blog with such details. Besides, you can follow the link above and learn more from the Internet.

I also took a lot of pictures of the outside exhibits, but will include only a couple to give you some idea of the extent of rockets used at WSMR. Here is a Patriot Missile, which I learned is launched from it's shipping container! There is also an IGOR, used to track missiles after launch, and an Aeroshell 'Flying Saucer', designed and tested as part of the Voyager Balloon System to slow down the missile for possible landing on Mars. This is believed to be the only one 'in captivity'.

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Then we drove through Las Crucius (indulging in some fast food for dinner - a rare vice for us) and actually made it all the way back to Deming! This time, we just stayed at the Wal-mart and were ready to head west again in the morning. So at least we're back west again as far as we were yesterday morning?

Logistics:

Miles Driven - 161, Cumulative 15,971
Camped at Wal-mart, Deming NM

Provisions & Repairs - LOF for RV, Gas $29.31 for 9.163g at 125,824

Posted by jl98584 20:53 Archived in USA Tagged family_travel

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