Presentation Will Highlight 50 Years of Space Exploration

Capt. Charles Holland

by Dave Finley

SOCORRO, N.M., Sept. 26, 2007 -- The Space Age turns 50 on October 4, the anniversary of the launching of Sputnik, the world's first man-made Earth satellite, by the Soviet Union in 1957. To mark this anniversary, Socorro's Civil Air Patrol (CAP) squadron and the New Mexico Tech Astronomy Club will host a free presentation on 50 years of space history.

Captain Charles Holland of the U.S. Air Force will speak on "Mankind's First Half-Century in Space." The presentation will be at 7:00 p.m., Thursday, October 4, in room 101 of Workman Center on the NM Tech campus. It is free and open to the public.

"Fifty years ago, Americans were shocked that our archrival, the Soviet Union, had inaugurated the Space Age. Now, American astronauts and Russian cosmonauts work together aboard the International Space Station.

Captain Holland will give us a look back at the exciting events of the first 50 years of the Space Age, from the early satellites and pioneering manned flights through the race to the Moon, to today's cooperation and future plans for exploring the Solar System," said Dave Finley, local CAP squadron commander. "We invite the community to join us on this important anniversary," he added.

Captain Holland is Commander, Detachment 1, 21st Operations Group, in charge of the GEODSS space-surveillance facility at White Sands Missile Range. He holds a Masters degree in space systems operations management and has extensive experience in Air Force space operations. He is a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy. He also is a deputy commander and operations officer for Socorro's CAP squadron.

The CAP's Socorro Composite Squadron, formed this year, is open to adults and cadets ages 12-18. Activities include aerospace education, emergency services, and cadet programs that include leadership training, orientation flights, and flight training scholarships.

"We will have information about the Civil Air Patrol available at the October 4 event, and will be happy to answer questions about our programs," Finley said.

The U.S. Civil Air Patrol, the official auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force, was founded on Dec. 1, 1941, less than a week before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor brought the U.S. into World War II. CAP is a nonprofit organization with more than 55,000 members nationwide. The organization's members perform 95 percent of continental U.S. inland search and rescue missions, as tasked by the Air Force's Rescue Coordination Center, and was credited by the AFRCC with saving 58 lives in 2006. Its volunteers also perform homeland security, disaster relief and counterdrug missions at the request of federal, state and local agencies. Members play a leading role in aerospace education and serve as mentors to the more than 22,000 young people currently participating in the CAP cadet program.