NMSU students launch experiments into space from Spaceport America

March 23, 2009 by Louie Calderon NMSU News Center

Spaceport America and the New Mexico Spaceport Authority are developing a program that will allow New Mexico students annual access to space.

New Mexico State University students from the Las Cruces and Doña Ana Branch Community College campuses will be launching experiments into space, along with students from three other universities and community colleges and several high schools in the state.

“The vision is for every student in New Mexico to have access to space,” said Aaron Perez, education launch program coordinator for the New Mexico Space Grant Consortium.

The experiments will be flown on a SpaceLoft XL rocket and the launch will take place Saturday, April 25. Spaceport America, the New Mexico Spaceport Authority and UP Aerospace are providing the rocket and launch.

“The potential for economic benefits to accrue to New Mexico and our nation from Spaceport America will depend on whether our teachers, faculty and students are given opportunities to learn to compete in the emerging space industries coming to New Mexico,” said New Mexico Space Grant Director Pat Hynes.

The purpose of the program is to develop New Mexico’s workforce by providing students access to space annually from Spaceport America. Participation in the program will be especially beneficial to students who decide to pursue a career in the space sector, according to past research.

“The 2006 Space Foundation ‘Space Report’ indicates people who work in the space sector earn twice what employees earn in other sectors of the economy,” said Steve Landeene, executive director of Spaceport America.

The NMSU experiment will collect data about altitude, acceleration, temperature, cosmic radiation and magnetic field in order to understand how the flight components operate in sub-orbital space. The SpaceLoft XL rocket is 20 feet tall and 10.45 inches in diameter.

Other participating universities and community colleges include the University of New Mexico, ITT Technical Institute and the Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute.

Participating high schools include Cloudcroft High School, Hatch Valley High School, Hot Springs High School, Las Cruces High School and Mayfield High School.

“The student launch program ensures technical and scientific advances underpinning economic development within the state are familiar to students and teachers,” said NMSU Interim President Waded Cruzado.

The New Mexico Space Grant Consortium at NMSU provided the funding for the participating high schools to build the experiments over the past academic year.

“Bolstering the capability, knowledge base and flight experience of New Mexico students and faculty will allow them to more ably compete in their academic careers and will also aid the state in attracting high-tech business to the region,” Perez said.

Anybody interested in attending the launch must R.S.V.P. to nmsgc@nmsu.edu or call (575) 646-6414.

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