SDL and Utah State space history heading to museum

By Trina Paskett, The Space Dynamics Laboratory
and Whitney Wilkinson, Utah State University
January 31, 2005
Museum of Idaho

Museum of Idaho

Utah State University and the Space Dynamics Laboratory have donated historical space items that will be featured in the Space Journey Exhibit at the Museum of Idaho from Feb. 8 through Sept. 10.

“Utah State has been involved with space for over 40 years,” said Stan Albrecht, president of Utah State University. “Being a part of this display is a great opportunity for us to showcase the University’s extensive heritage in space.”

SVET growth chamber at the Museum of Idaho

SVET growth chamber at the Museum of Idaho

SDL donated SVET, the SDL/Russian growth chamber, as one of the Utah State displays at the museum. It was used for seven experiments on the Mir Space Station between 1990 and 2000, including growing Utah State’s Apogee wheat in the first repeated seed-to-seed plant experiment in space. The SDL team worked directly with members of Russia’s Institute of Biomedical Problems in Moscow and the Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, Russia. The current SDL/Russian growth chamber, Lada, is in operation aboard the International Space Station.

“We are the pioneers in growing plants in microgravity,” said Gail Bingham, SDL chief scientist. “It is exciting to have a piece of our history displayed at the museum.”

Another Utah State project going on display is a canister from the Get Away Special (GAS) program. For more than two decades Utah State has been the leading school in the Space Shuttle GAS program (1977-present). The canisters hold science experiments that are launched aboard the Space Shuttle. A total of 11 payloads have been launched to date with a variety of different research experiments aboard. No other college or university in the world has provided more payloads.

Iridium satellite

Iridium satellite

The USU Wright flyer team built a quarter-scale model of the Wright Flyer that will be showcased along with an Iridium satellite donated to Utah State by Motorola. The satellite is a spaceflight spare from the existing constellation now in orbit providing global telephone coverage. The only other Iridium satellite currently on display is at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C.

“This has been a great opportunity to show the collaborative work that goes on between SDL and Utah State,” said Gayle Bowen, SDL division administrator. “The museum will be an effective outreach tool to help interest young students in space and science.”

Other items on display at the museum include an Atlas rocket engine, an astronaut’s multi-axis trainer, vintage aircraft and rockets, replicas of the Apollo capsule and a Mercury Spacecraft, a Moon rock and many other attractions. The exhibit expects to draw over 265,000 visitors.

The exhibit will be opened with a press conference where Brian Binnie, SpaceShipOne astronaut; Senator Jake Garn, former NASA astronaut; Scott Kelly, active NASA astronaut; and Idaho Governor Dirk Kempthorne will speak.