sealPurdue News

October 25, 2002

Former astronaut Casper speaks at Purdue, Fall Space Day

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Purdue alumnus and former astronaut Col. John H. Casper will share his firsthand knowledge of space flight when he speaks twice at Purdue's West Lafayette campus.

Casper's one-hour talk and video presentation will begin at 8 p.m. on Friday (11/1) in Stewart Center, Room 310. The talk is free and open to the public, and registration is not required. Casper will field questions from the audience following his presentation.

Casper's appearance precedes his participation in the Seventh Annual Fall Space Day on Saturday (11/2), which will provide approximately 250 preregistered students in grades three through eight the opportunity to learn about aeronautical engineering and space exploration. The students will come from invited schools within a 60-mile radius of the West Lafayette campus. All places for students have been filled for this event.

This year's Space Day theme is astronaut Christa McAuliffe's quote of Dec. 6, 1987: "It's everybody's business to know about space." Casper's Saturday presentation will begin at 9:30 a.m. in the Class of 1950 Lecture Hall. Students also will participate in three age-related activities. Session one will be from 10:45-11:30 a.m., session two will be from 12:45-1:30 p.m. and session three will be from 1:45-2:30 p.m. The day will finish at 3 p.m.

Activities for third- through fifth-graders include:

• Rockets, in Recitation Hall, Rooms 112, 113 and 114. During the rockets activity, students will learn about, build and launch a rocket powered by frozen carbon dioxide (dry ice) and watch Purdue students launch a variety of two-liter bottle water rockets.

• Edible Space Station, in Recitation Hall, Rooms 307, 308 and 309. Using a variety of edible goods, students will be able to design, build, present – and eat – their own miniature space station.

• Nanorovers in Class of 1950 Lecture Hall, Rooms 121, 125, 129. This activity will introduce children to robotic technology and give them a chance to build their own toy version. In 1997 during NASA's Mars Pathfinder mission, a tiny rover named Sojourner explored the surface of Mars gathering valuable scientific data. This was the first time a robotic rover operated on another planet. NASA is building a nanorover to explore the surface of the 4660 Nereus Asteroid.

Students in grades six through eight also will participate in three different activities:

• Satellite Launch – in the atrium of the Materials and Electrical Engineering Building. Students are challenged to successfully deploy a satellite (balloon) using the most efficient method possible. Groups are given budgets to purchase materials and must achieve the specified altitude without sacrificing any materials.

• Descent Stage – in Recitation Hall, Rooms 313/315, 316/317. The descent stage will consist of two teams that will make six spacecraft out of a choice of materials and use eggs to represent astronauts. The device must safely land the astronaut when dropped from a third-floor window. The teams will compete against each other to see which can have the highest survival rate of unbroken "eggstronauts."

• Mission to the Moon – in the Wetherill Laboratory of Chemistry Building, Room 104. The presentation for Fall Space Day's students in grades six to eight consists of a video summary along with scale models and various maps and charts to illustrate the steps required to land humans on the moon. This historical retrospective covers each task that was necessary to accomplish the goal set out by President John F. Kennedy's speech on May 25, 1961, to "... achieve the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and return him safely to earth."

Fall Space Day is sponsored by the Indiana Space Grant Consortium, Pratt & Whitney, Students for the Exploration and Development of Space and the American Institute for Aeronautics and Astronautics, and Purdue's School of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

Casper, a 1967 aeronautical and astronautical engineering graduate and retired Air Force colonel, is a veteran of four space flights who has logged more than 825 hours in space. Casper currently serves as director of safety, reliability, and quality assurance for the NASA Johnson Space Center. He is responsible for all safety, reliability and quality activities for human space flight programs including the International Space Station, Space Launch Initiative and crew return vehicles. Casper also is also responsible for planning, directing and implementing an institutional safety program to prevent injuries or loss of life.

Writer: Grant Flora, (765) 494-2073,

Source: Ann Broughton, Fall Space Day coordinator, (765) 494-5147,

NOTE TO JOURNALISTS: The Nov. 1 event is open to the public and media, and the Nov. 2 event will offer photo opportunities of children working on space projects.

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;

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