Following the encouraging success of the inaugural Las Cruces Space Festival in April 2018, it is time to look to the future and launch the start of the bigger and bolder 2019 celebration.
Las Cruces is synonymous with Space; from the early rocket research at White Sands Missile Range (WSMR), which started in the mid 1940’s, and Clyde Tombaugh’s work at WSMR and New Mexico State University (NMSU), to the current activities at WSMR, NASA White Sands Test Facility and Spaceport America, and the planned space flights of Virgin Galactic. The Las Cruces Space Festival is about having fun and learning more about past accomplishments, current activities and future prospects of space in this region.
The 2019 Las Cruces Space Festival will run for one-week April 8th to 14th, beginning with activities in Las Cruces Public Schools and NMSU, and across local media to compliment events on the four main on-site days of the Festival. The theme, established in 2018, is “Making Space for Everyone.”
Those on-site activities will begin on April 11th, with our ‘Making Contact’ event at the Las Cruces Convention Center. This will be geared towards inspiring students of all ages to pursue careers in space-related fields and will offer the perfect opportunity for budding astronauts, curious minds and science buffs to interact with and ask questions from experts in space travel, aerospace and space exploration. Some of the greatest minds in the area will gather for the showcase. Representatives from NASA White Sands Test Facility, Spaceport America, Virgin Galactic, New Mexico Space History Museum, the NMSU Engineering and Science & Art Faculties, the Santa Fe Institute, and others will be featured.
April 12th will be the day of “Celebration.” On this day, events will mark the anniversary of human space flight. ‘Yuri’s Night’, which has been celebrated worldwide since 2001, marks the date in 1961 when Yuri Gagarin was launched into a single orbit around the Earth. Events will be centered around the New Mexico Farm and Ranch Museum, where we link up to other Yuri’s Night celebrations across America and hopefully around the World. There will also be ‘live’ music, a Fancy Dress Party, a Space Quiz, and ‘Space Awards’, plus educational Space Talks and stargazing in the Organ Mountains and at White Sands National Monument.
On Saturday, April 13th, the day of “Entertainment” will take place on the Plaza de Las Cruces and surrounding locations in the downtown area and will be a full range of interactive events. There will be many hands-on activities provided by ¡explora!, Insights El Paso Science Center, Asombro and Cruces Creative amongst others, and many opportunities to interact with fellow space enthusiasts and industry professionals. Also planned are multiple immersive Challenger Center Missions, open to all ages, plus a ‘spacewalk’ in which participants are encouraged to dress in their best space-related costumes. Events will also be held in downtown Truth or Consequences.
Sunday, April 14th will be an ‘Open House’ at Spaceport America, which will give everyone an opportunity to see the facilities that have been developed at Spaceport America and to get a look behind the scenes at the Virgin Galactic ‘Gateway to Space’ facility at the horizontal launch area. Visitors will be encouraged to check out the ‘Spaceport America Visitor Center’ in nearby T or C. There will be an opportunity to meet the spaceport teams and see some rocket launches from the vertical launch area.
Throughout the week of April 8th-14th, presentations from leaders in the Space Industry will be delivered at venues around Las Cruces and will be free and open to the public. The Rio Grande Theatre will showcase Space related movies, and art exhibitions will run throughout the Festival.
The Las Cruces Space Festival will provide an incredible opportunity for youth to learn about and get excited about space, and for older generations to celebrate the impact that space has had on their daily lives. For all lovers of space and all those with a growing curiosity, the Space Festival will bring education, entertainment, and fun together in one package, with some of the key organizations behind regional space activity involved, and it promises to provide something for everyone.
“We were all pleased with the response to the first Space Festival in April, and the coverage that the event received nationwide. The organizing group is now looking to have the 2019 event take in a wider range of activity, including bringing in art and cultural elements“, said Festival Director, Jonathan Firth. “We have started planning earlier, we are talking with potential new participants, and we’re looking at widening the number of locations. Our message to everyone is: if you would like to get involved, please let us know.”
Event partners include New Mexico State University, City of Las Cruces, Visit Las Cruces, Greater Las Cruces Chamber of Commerce, Las Cruces Public Schools, Spaceport America, Virgin Galactic, NASA White Sands Test Facility, Jacobs Technology, New Mexico Space Grant, Big Brothers Big Sisters Mountain Region, KTAL Community Radio, Las Cruces Sun-News, Las Cruces Bulletin, Hotel Encanto, Las Cruces Challenger Learning Center, Insights El Paso Science Center, ¡explora!, Cruces Creatives, and the Rio Grande Theatre.