Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Project Opening: Columbia Memorial Space Center

By Ron Davis, Principal and LEED AP

This past weekend marked the opening of the Columbia Memorial Space Center in Downey California. Gyroscope has been working on this project from its inception five years ago, and we are pleased to have seen the very first visitors enjoy the interactive exhibits at the Center. 

Downey was one of NASA's technology and production facilities and grew out of the early aerospace industry there. Among its notable achievements was the development of much of the Apollo program space vehicles, and the crew compartment of the space shuttle. The project is named as a memorial to the astronauts who died in the disastrous re-entry of the Columbia space shuttle. Though history is featured, the intention of the Center is to showcase past, present, and importantly, developing technologies. With the goal of fostering interest in science and technology in its visitors.

At the opening events, there were many retired engineers who had participated in pioneering space science developments. These developments are visible just out the windows from the new Center. 

The encounter that struck me the most was a conversation with an Hispanic mother of an 8 or 9 year old boy who really wanted her son to be inspired to pursue his interest in science– knowing that it could lead him towards future opportunities in a career that might not only fulfill his potential, but perhaps someday allow him to make his own contribution to the world. She asked if she might be able to volunteer at the center, as well.

It is extremely satisfying to see this new city-funded and city-run institution reach so many in their re-emerging community– from the aerospace workers with stories to share, to the young adventurers of the as yet uncharted future.



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