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Spaceport partnership blasts off


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The Conner Prairie Interactive History Park’s incorporation into the Spaceport Indiana family is expected to draw hundreds of additional people to Columbus for special launches and events.

Brian Tanner, president and chairman of Spaceport Indiana, predicted a boost to Columbus’ economy on the heels of Monday’s announcement that Conner Prairie, Indiana’s only Smithsonian affiliate, had become a Spaceport Regional Outreach Center.

He expects the number of people who attend the primary Columbus site’s annual Space Day event, for example, to grow from a couple of hundred student participants a year to about 1,000.

“They and their parents will stay in Columbus and eat at its restaurants,” Tanner said. “Every time we announce something like this, it’s bound to have a positive impact on Columbus.”

Spaceport Indiana brought its main operation to the Columbus Municipal Airport in 2008 as part of the commercialization of the space industry, which makes near-space — about 100,000 feet in the air — accessible to companies. Its educational outreach arm encourages engineering and aerospace opportunities as careers by creating excitement and enthusiasm for learning science and math.

Regional Outreach Centers since then have sprung up in Greensburg and now Conner Prairie in Fishers. Their role is to have events such as workshops and camps, while the Columbus main site offers Space Day and payload

launches.

Spaceport officials hope to begin the state’s first routine, unmanned launch program in late January by sending up a 20-foot-tall rocket. They postponed the launch last month when an electronic diagnosis detected a problem in the

engine.

Tanner said the Regional Outreach Centers give new groups of people the chance to experience Spaceport’s educational offerings. He said visits to Columbus will roll off from that naturally as those people learn about the Columbus facility’s unique and larger offerings and plan trips to the area.

And he said the benefit to Columbus has only begun. He said he wants to add a new regional outreach center somewhere in Indiana every year until a total of five are

established.

Lynn Lucas, executive director of Columbus Area Visitors Center, said she is excited about the pending boost in tourism and intends to reach out to Conner Prairie for marketing purposes.

She said visitors to Columbus already come from diverse backgrounds and interests. She said an entirely new group of space enthusiasts would be welcome.

Conner Prairie, a pioneer village and outdoor educational center, was chosen as a Regional Outreach Center partly because of its dedication to children and adults, Tanner said. But he said the pairing also is a natural, given that Spaceport wants to pioneer the next age in space exploration.

“People might look at a pioneer village as old technology,” Tanner said, “but it wasn’t old technology back in their time.”

Tanner said the partnership will enhance Conner Prairie’s ability to offer students and teachers learning and teaching opportunities in science, technology, engineering and math. He said the goal is to inspire them, expand their minds and help them eventually land great jobs.

A variety of platforms and formats will be available at Conner Prairie, including high-altitude balloon flights, amateur radio, rockets and space artifacts when the program begins in February.

“America is looking for the bright young minds that will shape our workforce, and Spaceport Indiana believes that the best candidates will come from Indiana,” Tanner said.

“They and their parents will stay in Columbus and eat at its restaurants,” Tanner said. “Every time we announce something like this, it’s bound to have a positive impact on Columbus.”

Spaceport Indiana brought its main operation to the Columbus Municipal Airport in 2008 as part of the commercialization of the space industry, which makes near-space — about 100,000 feet in the air — accessible to companies. Its educational outreach arm encourages engineering and aerospace opportunities as careers by creating excitement and enthusiasm for learning science and math.

Regional Outreach Centers since then have sprung up in Greensburg and now Conner Prairie in Fishers. Their role is to have events such as workshops and camps, while the Columbus main site offers Space Day and payload

launches.

Spaceport officials hope to begin the state’s first routine, unmanned launch program in late January by sending up a 20-foot-tall rocket. They postponed the launch last month when an electronic diagnosis detected a problem in the

engine.

Tanner said the Regional Outreach Centers give new groups of people the chance to experience Spaceport’s educational offerings. He said visits to Columbus will roll off from that naturally as those people learn about the Columbus facility’s unique and larger offerings and plan trips to the area.

And he said the benefit to Columbus has only begun. He said he wants to add a new regional outreach center somewhere in Indiana every year until a total of five are

established.

Lynn Lucas, executive director of Columbus Area Visitors Center, said she is excited about the pending boost in tourism and intends to reach out to Conner Prairie for marketing purposes.

She said visitors to Columbus already come from diverse backgrounds and interests. She said an entirely new group of space enthusiasts would be welcome.

Conner Prairie, a pioneer village and outdoor educational center, was chosen as a Regional Outreach Center partly because of its dedication to children and adults, Tanner said. But he said the pairing also is a natural, given that Spaceport wants to pioneer the next age in space exploration.

“People might look at a pioneer village as old technology,” Tanner said, “but it wasn’t old technology back in their time.”

Tanner said the partnership will enhance Conner Prairie’s ability to offer students and teachers learning and teaching opportunities in science, technology, engineering and math. He said the goal is to inspire them, expand their minds and help them eventually land great jobs.

A variety of platforms and formats will be available at Conner Prairie, including high-altitude balloon flights, amateur radio, rockets and space artifacts when the program begins in February.

“America is looking for the bright young minds that will shape our workforce, and Spaceport Indiana believes that the best candidates will come from Indiana,” Tanner said.

About Spaceport Indiana

Began

2008

Location

Campus of IUPUC, 4601 Central Ave., on Columbus Municipal Airport property

FACTS

Advance the commercialization of the space industry. Its educational outreach arm encourages engineering and aerospace opportunities as careers by creating excitement and enthusiasm for learning science and math.

On the Web

spaceportindiana.com

About Conner Prairie

BEGAN

1934 by Eli Lilly

LOCATION

13400 Allisonville Road, Fishers

Facts

Conner Prairie is Indiana’s only Smithsonian affiliate and a nonprofit organization that relies on sponsors, grants and philanthropic gifts for sustainability and growth. Families of today can visit the pioneer village and outdoor educational center to engage, explore and discover what it was like to live and play in Indiana’s past.

On the Web

connerprairie.org

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