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New Mexico Space Trail

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“New Mexico Space Trail” ties the cultural and historical legacy of the Native Americans and Spanish explorers to the future of space exploration by tracing man’s insatiable curiosity of the universe, specifically in New Mexico. Developed by the NM Museum of Space History, “NM Space Trail” identifies 52 sites across the state directly related to astronomy and space exploration. Prehistoric observations In New Mexico, like those shown in the sand paintings of the Navajo or the petroglyphs of the Zuni, allowed ancient native Americans to predict seasonal changes, in order to plan and implement the agricultural and religious events of their lives. The rock alignments at Wizard’s Roost in the Sacramento Mountains, built between 100 B.C. and A.D. 900, were used as a calendar, similar to the much larger site of Stonehenge. In the mid 60’s, astronauts found the Zuni Salt Lake’s near lunar landscape an excellent place to train. In 1964 and 1966, dozens of astronauts trained for later space missions in the rugged terrain of New Mexico’s Jemez Mountains. Astronauts from Apollo 15 & 16 honed their Lunar Rover driving skills across the rugged landscape of the Rio Grande Gorge area. In 1598, the Spaniards who trekked the El Camino Real, in search of new settlements, blazed a trail not only across New Mexico but also to the future as their path crossed what is now becoming the home of Spaceport America. In 1945, the United States Army acquired 2,671,000 acres of land in southern New Mexico that would become known as White Sands Missile Range, the Birthplace of Space. The descendents of some of the farmers and ranchers who were displaced by that acquisition now have their own ranches, which border Spaceport America. The stories of native Americans, Spanish explorers, farmers and ranchers, early astronauts and the space explorers of the future, as told through the voices of history, their descendants and themselves, gives a new answer to the question: “What it means to be a New Mexican”.

The stories of men like Robert Goddard, Werner Von Braun and others who worked on projects in New Mexico that would change the world are just a few of the stories that “New Mexico Space Trail” will touch on, but through the eyes of others who knew them, worked with them or even opposed them. How were the lives of the ranch families changed when their land was taken for White Sands Missile Range? How will the lives of the ranch families be changed whose properties border the emerging Spaceport America? “New Mexico Space Trail” will broaden our understanding of how space research, development and exploration has changed and continues to change our world. These diverse viewpoints are presented through historical documentation, from over 150 existing oral histories archived at the New Mexico Museum of Space History and with over twenty new oral histories to be developed as part of this program, along with historical documentation and personal stories.

“New Mexico Space Trail” tells these stories through a 52 part 2.5 minute syndicated weekly radio program now airing on 13 stations in 3 states and through a weekly print article entitled “This Week In Space History” published weekly by the Alamogordo Daily News, the Las Cruces Bulletin and occasionally by newspapers across the country. A companion booklet is planned as well. The radio stations airing “New Mexico Space Trail” include KRSY AM 1230, KRSY 92.7 FM, ESPN 103.7 FM (all three in Alamogordo, NM), W105.1 FM Country, KRUI 1490 AM, KNMB 96.7 FM (all in Ruidoso, NM), KCHS 1400 (Truth or Consequences, NM, known as the Voice of Spaceport America), KRWG 90.7 FM (Las Cruces, NM), KELY 1230 AM (Ely, Nev.), KWNA 1400 AM, 104.5 FM, 92.7 FM (Winnemucca, Nev.), and KEPL 1470 AM (Estes Park, Co.)

In the January, 2010, New Mexico Legislative Session, Representative Dennis Kintigh introduced a House Memorial to begin the process of officially designation for the “New Mexico Space Trail”. It passed as HM041.

Where else but New Mexico can the footprints of Spaniards who trekked the El Camino Real cross the path of future astronauts at Spaceport America?

New Mexico Space Trail - (Printable Map) (PDF)