NASA Lands in the Heart of New York City

NEW YORK Among the everyday sounds of traffic and the chaotic rush of the city, a piece of Manhattan's Chelsea District grew still and focused at 10:15 a.m. Wednesday.

Hundreds of eyes in Eventi's "Big Screen Plaza" redirected from soaring architectural silhouettes, including that of the Empire State Building, to a stage where the four-person STS-135 astronaut crew emerged to kick off "What's Your Favorite Space?" presented by NASA and Eventi.

Between 29th and 30th streets, and parallel to Avenue of the Americas, Sesame Street's Elmo joined them on the stage with giggles, wit and questions for the crew.

Elmo and the Atlantis crew were meeting for the first time, although Elmo witnessed their launch from NASA's Kennedy Space Center on July 8. He asked how they slept, how long it took them to train, even how they brushed their teeth.

"Are you sad that the shuttle program has ended?" Elmo asked.

"It was sad. The space shuttle may be gone, but its mission is complete," said Cmdr. Chris Ferguson. "Sometimes you have to stop building rockets for today to build one for tomorrow."

Though NASA closed a chapter in America's history in space with the end of the shuttle program, the agency is already working on the next installment of the story of exploration. That was part of the story Wednesday in New York.

It was told at dozens of interactive spaces that outlined the plaza from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m., while NASA video played on a 35-foot (10.7 m) high-definition LED screen.

Samuel and Hannah Foster from Hacketts Town, N.J., tried on space gloves and attempted tooling tasks that astronauts do in space.

Their older brother, Benjamin, was there with his FIRST robotics team. He later was one of many to demonstrate a robot on stage. His father, Bryan, was pleased to be at the event with his children, who have all taken a special interest in science.

Many children discovered their "favorite space" in the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) exhibit. There, the engineering challenge involved picking up a potato and dressing it with bubble wrap, rubber bands, aluminum foil and strings to secure it from damage. A tool was dropped onto the potato inside a bucket, and an unharmed potato earned them a cape, a bag and a solar-powered safety light.

Students from the City College of New York ASME student chapter hosted a "balloon blaster" challenge. Rowan, a third-grader, and Grier, an upcoming kindergartner, discovered this to be a "favorite space."

No comments:

Post a Comment