Former astronaut to appear at Md. Science Center today Town meeting aims to encourage support for space projects

July 24, 1996|By Frank D. Roylance | Frank D. Roylance,SUN STAFF

Jim Lovell knows the importance of space technology. It got him safely back from a harrowing spin around the moon in 1970 after his Apollo 13 spacecraft was crippled by an oxygen tank explosion.

At 6 p.m. today, the former astronaut will appear at the Maryland Science Center to take part in a "Town Hall in Space" -- a discussion of the impact of space technology on Maryland and a chance for people to voice their feelings about the future of U.S. space policy.

Among the other panelists will be Joseph Rothenberg, director of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, in Greenbelt. Town hall meetings are being held this year in four other cities: Chicago, Indianapolis, Boston and Los Angeles.

Lovell's visit is part of "Mission Home," a continuing effort by the aerospace industry and space enthusiasts to expand public awareness and political support for space exploration.

"The benefits of space have become such a pervasive part of our lives that we often take them for granted," Lovell has said. "In doing so, we lose sight of the fact that space's potential has barely been tapped."

Beyond the most obvious benefits -- the jobs provided at Goddard and at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore -- Marylanders also enjoy the fruits of technologies first developed for the space program.

These include the cordless tools marketed by firms such as Black & Decker Corp. of Towson; imaging technologies adapted for medical diagnostics; satellite communications widely used for everything from television reports to automated teller machine transactions; and satellite navigation systems.

From 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. today at the Science Center, the Coast Guard will conduct public demonstrations of the Global Positioning System. Today's events are part of a series of "Take Up Space Week" events in Baltimore that began Saturday with the opening of a new space exhibit at the science center. The display includes a 3.9 billion-year-old moon rock collected by the astronauts of Apollo 16; a scale model of the International Space Station; and a space shuttle model.

Today, Lovell was scheduled to meet with three Maryland children suffering from a rare birth defect that left them without sweat glands needed to cool the body. He will present each of them with a "cool suit" developed by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration to cool astronauts in space.

A limited number of free tickets will be made available to a 5 p.m. IMAX theater showing of "The Dream is Alive." (For tickets, call 685-2370). A second IMAX event after the Town Hall will feature IMAX footage shot aboard the Russian space station Mir.

Lovell is scheduled to throw out the first ball at tonight's Orioles baseball game against the Minnesota Twins at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

Information: (888) SPACE-US.

Pub Date: 7/24/96

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