Author Will Critique Space Shuttle Program

SOCORRO, N.M. April 29, 2011 – New Mexico Tech and the Civil Air Patrol are hosting a special presentation on the history of the Space Shuttle – “the most complex machine devised by man.”

Author, historian and pilot Ted Spitzmiller will review three decades of shuttle flights, why this spectacular flying machine failed to achieve its primary goal, and what lies ahead for human presence in space. The free public presentation will be at 7 p.m., Thursday, May 5, at Macey Center on the New Mexico Tech campus.

Ted Spitzmiller
Author, pilot and historian

Dr. Van Romero, Vice President of Research at Tech, said Spitzmiller’s talk is an excellent opportunity for the university and the community to learn more about space travel.

“With the Space Shuttle program winding down and commercial space travel ramping up, this is a very germane topic,” he said. “I look forward to hearing Ted talk about how things are developing in the commercial space arena.”

The presentation will come 50 years to the day after Al Shepherd became the first American astronaut to fly in space, and just over 30 years after the first Shuttle flight. With only two more Shuttle flights scheduled before the end of the program, Spitzmiller said, “The United States will no longer possess the ability to launch humans into space for many years. Support for the $100 billion dollar International Space Station will have to rely on the same Russian space technology that sent their first man into orbit in 1961.”

Spitzmiller retired from Los Alamos National Laboratory and is a commercial pilot and flight instructor. He has written about aviation and space history for the past 25 years, and is author of a two-book series entitled Astronautics, a definitive history of mankind's exploration of space, from early Chinese rocketry to today's spacecraft.

"Ted Spitzmiller's presentation will be an exciting way to celebrate 50 years of American space flight,” said Civil Air Patrol Major Dave Finley, commander of the CAP’s Socorro Composite Squadron. “Ted is an expert on space history, and he presents it with energy and enthusiasm that excites his audience.”

Spitzmiller’s Astronautics examines the epic events of space history that shaped an era and provides fascinating insight into the wide-ranging impact that space exploration has had on technology, politics, and society.

Spitzmiller is a popular lecturer and aerospace-education officer for the New Mexico Wing of the Civil Air Patrol (CAP), who also has written "Enchanted Wings," a history of the CAP in New Mexico. He is co-organizer of an aerospace-education extravaganza scheduled for June 25 at the Balloon Museum in Albuquerque.  This extravaganza will feature workshops, exhibits, and presentations, including a talk by Col. Joseph Kittinger, who holds the world's record for a high-altitude parachute jump. In 1960, Kittinger jumped from a helium balloon at 102,800 feet over White Sands. In addition to Kittinger, Mary Feik, a noted pilot and aviation engineer, will speak at that event.