50 Ways to Space Out

Looking for ways to celebrate a half century of spaceflight? Here’s fifty of ‘em.

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10 ENJOY THE MUSIC, dialog, and odd sound bites chosen to wake up astronauts from Gemini to the International Space Station. The playlist includes classic rock, country, jazz, international folk songs, children’s chorus, television themes, and commercial jingles. Download the 62-page list, which reveals the personalities and anecdotes behind the selections, at history.nasa.gov/wakeup%20calls.pdf.

11 METEOR MUSEUMS exhibit what space is tossing back at us after 50 years of exploration. Read up on the subject in the online Meteorite Times at International Meteorite Collectors Association. Visit the Institute of Meteoritics Museum, with its 1,600-pound Navajo iron specimen, at the University of New Mexico at Albuquerque, (505) 277-1644; the Oscar Monnig Meteorite Gallery at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, R.A. Langheinrich Museum of Meteorites in Ilion, New York, (315) 894-0513 or nyrockman.com.

12 ATTEND A SPACE SCHOLARS PROGRAM at the Air Force Research Laboratory. To become a Space Scholar, you must be pursuing an undergraduate, master’s, or doctoral degree in science or engineering. Get your application at www.vs.afrl.af.mil/SpaceScholars. New this year are courses in Nano Space Weather Sensors, as well as Snap-Fit Composites (fabricating space structures by hand or by robot).

13 WITH ROCKET STATIONERY, send a friend a card printed on the “Astronaut Invitation and Thank You” set from Countdown Creations. A box of 10 six- by-nine-inch cards costs $12.95. Choose from dozens of space-theme party supplies, favors, space candies, snacks, and silly space hats. Shop for party favors online at countdowncreations.com or call (800) 388-3079.

14 LEARN TO SPEAK KLINGON with a free download for your Palm: the Mini Klingon Alphabet, from freewarepalm.com. Flip through the paperback Klingon Dictionary for $12.95 from Simon & Schuster, or read The Klingon Way: A Warrior’s Guide, available from Amazon.

15 50 YEARS OF SPACE HARDWARE are documented in 320 full color pages in Space 50 by Piers Bizony. Learn about rocket exploration—past, present and future; pick up a copy for $40 from HarperCollins.

16 DISCOVER THE DESIGNS of Hermann Potocnik, pseudonym Hermann Noordung, a Slovene rocket engineer whose 1920s sketches were adapted for NASA’s earliest space station designs as well as the fictional space habitat in the film 2001: A Space Odyssey. Potocnik’s milestone work, Das Problem der Befahrung des Weltraums (The Problem of Space Travel: The Rocket Motor), and his exquisitely detailed drawings can be viewed at noordung.info.

17 EXPLORE GRIFFITH OBSERVATORY in Hollywood, California. It was reopened with a newly renovated interior on November 3, 2006, after its first makeover since 1935. Some $93 million bought 60 new exhibits and 40,000 square feet, a 200-seat theater and 300-seat immersive planetarium with digital lasers and sound, and new polish on the plaque given by 1955 visitor James Dean (much of his movie Rebel Without a Cause was filmed at Griffith). Because the observatory expects a crush of visitors, it has set up a timed-entry program; make reservations for the parking-lot shuttle bus at (888) 695-0888 or griffithobservatory.org.

18 SEND YOUR OPINION into oblivion, or maybe on to unknown life-forms, via Blog in Space at bloginspace.com. Certify your age as 13 or older, and your ruminations (up to 2,500 characters) will be fed, at no charge, to a deep-space transmission dish. If you’ve got nothing to say, just buy Blog in Space boxers for $12.99.

19 COLLECT ROCKETRY STAMPS designed to honor such space travel achievements as the Mercury program, the first Chinese manned mission, and Earth-bound experiments in rocket mail. Visit spacestamps.com and spacecovers.com (for an international overview), www.asss.utvinternet.com (the British Astro Space Stamp Society), and philatel2.com; click on “Postal History” for rocket mail.

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