Space travel topic of visit by astronaut

Mary Cleave

A former NASA astronaut will be in Grand Junction on Thursday to talk to students and local residents about the space shuttle and the future of manned space flights.

The event, which will feature former shuttle astronaut Mary Cleave, is part of a summer lecture series sponsored by the John McConnell Math & Science Center and the Museum of Western Colorado.

It is part of the ongoing series titled, “Changing Landscapes of Science.”

“How often do we get to learn firsthand about space exploration from someone who has actually been there?” asked Teresa Coons, executive director of the center. “We are very excited that Dr. Cleave was willing to come to Grand Junction to share her experiences with our community, and especially pleased that she will be able to spend time with the boys and girls who are participating in this week’s science camp.”

In addition to her presentation Thursday evening, Cleave will address third- to fifth-graders who are attending the “Out of this World” day camp at the center.

At her 7 p.m. talk, which will be held at the Whitman Education Center, 248 S. Fourth St., Cleave will discuss her time as a mission specialist on the shuttle flights she was on in the mid-1980s.

Cleave, who retired from NASA as associate administrator for science in 2007, now is an environmental engineer, serving on corporate boards and advisory committees at various for- and non-profit businesses and organizations.

Her final years at NASA, Cleave was responsible for numerous probes and other spacecraft the agency have in the solar system.

Before joining NASA, she was a research engineer at the Utah Water Research Laboratory. She’s earned a doctorate degree in environmental engineering and a master’s degree in microbial ecology at Utah State University. Her undergraduate degree in biological sciences is from Colorado State University.

Other upcoming programs in the lecture series include, “Tour of the Known Universe through the Hubble Telescope,” presented in August by Ka Chun Yu, curator of the Denver Museum of Nature and Science; and “Astrobiology and the Search for Extraterrestrial Life,” in September by Brian M. Huynek, associate professor in the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado-Boulder.


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