When I think of the (somewhat now defunct) US Space program, I think of NASA, Houston TX (“Houston, we have a problem”), Cape Canaveral in Florida, or even Huntsville AL, where NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center is located.
I definitely don’t think of Alamogordo, NM where the International Space Hall of Fame is located. International Space Hall of Fame. I know New Mexico has a long history with rockets and the military, but International. Seriously. When my mind was in the process of being blown by this info, I was already in White Sands, a mere 20 miles away, so I decided to stop by.
When I finally found the right road (*heads up, some major construction going on right now in Alamogordo*), I knew this was going to be a fun side trip. Outside the building is a mini “park” of space and rocket related items donated by space agencies around the world – everything from a PTV (Parachute test vehicle) to “Little Joe” to the Sonic Wind No. 1, which some people may recognize as being Indiana Jones’ get away vehicle at the beginning of The Crystal Skull, capable of reaching 632 miles and used to test human reactions to intense speed.
Outside the front door there was also an actual Mercury Capsule with a ladder attached so you could peer inside!
Inside the building, there were 4 floors of information, artifacts, pictures, things actually worn/used by the astronauts on missions, etc. My favorite part, though, was looking at the Hall of Fame members’ bios. Some names I recognized – Neil Armstrong, John Glen, Buzz Aldrin, Galileo, etc. Many I didn’t. The Hall of Fame inductees include astronauts from over 20 countries, scientists, engineers, theorists, lawmakers, and many more.
My favorite three pictures out of the 153, however, were those of the Apollo 13 astronauts – Lovell, Swigert and Haise. I’m not old enough to have been alive during that near catastrophe, but I’ve heard the story many time in many different media, the Tom Hanks movie and books primarily, but it always makes me kind of tear up to think of all the things that went wrong and how they stilled managed to come home safely.
If you’re a space buff or even just in the Alamogordo area, I really recommend visiting the Museum/Hall of Fame. It’s such a unique treasure despite its somewhat unlikely setting.