The Grand Rapids Public Museum (GRPM) announced it would host a second year of Roger That! featuring retired NASA Astronaut Guion “Guy” Bluford to celebrate of space exploration and the life of Roger B. Chaffee. Roger That! is a multi-day experience starting on Feb. 16 with activities for school field trips and an academic conference, and Saturday, Feb. 17 with a public celebration. “Roger That!” is planned in partnership with Grand Valley State University (GVSU).
On Saturday, Feb. 17, “Roger That!” will include exciting and educational exhibitions and activities throughout the GRPM including docent-led presentations about the early life of Roger B. Chaffee, telescope demonstrations with the Grand Rapids Amateur Astronomical Association (GRAAA), hands-on activities including solar system bracelets and planispheres, and more. As part of this celebration, all planetarium shows on February 17 will be $2 off!
A special presentation by former astronaut Guion “Guy” Bluford will take place in the Museum’s Meijer Theater on Saturday, February 17 at 11 a.m. Guy Bluford will present Flying in Space: The Space Shuttle and Beyond. Bluford flew four missions for NASA from 1983-1992, and is best known as the first African American to fly in space, during his first flight, STS-8, on the Challenger. After retiring from service as an astronaut in 1993, Bluford entered the business world, and he continues to give talks throughout the country about his experiences with NASA and the future of America’s space program. Tickets to this presentation are $2 for GRPM members and $10 for non-members, and can be purchased at grpm.org/Roger-That. Tickets include general admission to the Museum for the day.
Visitors on February 17 can also learn about the future of space exploration through student-submitted projects. Student design challenge submissions will be on display in the GRPM’s Galleria.
Field Trips – February 16
Local students will have an opportunity to learn about space exploration through a series of programs and a presentation at the Roger B. Chaffee Planetarium at the GRPM on February 16! Hands-on activities include Magformers workshop, exploring the GRPM’s space-related artifacts including tektite, meteorite, and a sample of a space shuttle tile, learning more about Roger B. Chaffee, creating their own solar system necklace, engineering activities led by area engineers and educators including bridge building, robotics, water treatment and more. Schools interested in booking a field trip can reserve at grpm.org/schools.
Academic and Public Conference
The GVSU conference, “Roger That! A Celebration of Space Exploration in Honor of Roger B. Chaffee,” will take place February 16-17 at the DeVos Center on the Pew Grand Rapids Campus. Roger B. Chaffee was an astronaut and Grand Rapids native who died during testing on Apollo I in 1967.
The conference will kick off with a presentation, “Art/Space: NASA Space Art Program and Beyond,” by Grand Valley illustration professors Durwin Talon and Guin Thompson, followed by breakout sessions featuring a variety of science, art and society topics related to space exploration. The conference is free and open to the public; register by February 11at www.gvsu.edu/rogerthat.
On January 27, 1967, tragedy struck NASA’s Apollo program when a flash fire occurred in command module 012 during a launch pad test of the Apollo/Saturn space vehicle being prepared for the first piloted flight, the AS-204 mission. Three astronauts, Lt. Col. Virgil I. Grissom, a veteran of Mercury and Gemini missions; Lt. Col. Edward H. White, the astronaut who had performed the first United States extravehicular activity during the Gemini program; and Grand Rapids Native Roger B. Chaffee, an astronaut preparing for his first spaceflight, died in this tragic accident. The Grand Rapids Public Museum renamed its planetarium to the Roger B. Chaffee Planetarium the same year.
Grand Rapids Public Museum
The Grand Rapids Public Museum is an invaluable, publicly-owned institution that is home to more than 250,000 unique artifacts that tell the history of Kent County and beyond, houses the only planetarium in the region, and is responsible for protecting the Norton Indian Mounds, a national historic landmark. The Grand Rapids Public Museum is accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, with its main location in downtown Grand Rapids, MI at 272 Pearl Street, NW. For additional information including hours of operation, admission fees and exhibit/event listings, please visit www.grpm.org.