Greetings from The Aero Experience Team


The Aero Experience is a celebration of Midwest aviation and aerospace achievement. We invite you to join us as we explore the treasures of Midwest aviation through first-hand experiences. Our contributors take turns flying lead, and we are always looking for new destinations. Check in with The Aero Experience frequently to see where we will land today, and then go out and have your own aero experiences!

Blue skies,

Carmelo Turdo, Mark Nankivil and Fred Harl - The Aero Experience Team

Thursday, March 21, 2019

The Space Museum in Bonne Terre, MO Dedicates Grissom Center, Part 1: Event Overview

By Carmelo Turdo, Mark Nankivil and Fred Harl
The Space Museum in Bonne Terre, Missouri dedicated their newest gallery during a public event held on Saturday, March 16. Hundreds of visitors from the local area and from around the country joined with astronauts, aerospace engineers, prominent authors and media representatives to celebrate the opening of the Grissom Center, named for astronaut Gus Grissom. The tickets for the meet-and-greet session and panel discussion were sold out, but the public was encouraged to attend the ribbon-cutting ceremony and tour of the museum galleries. The Grissom Center is located in the Heritage Hall building next to the original museum location and will be open during regular visiting hours.

The Aero Experience team was proud to support the event, and we now post this series of feature stories beginning with this event overview. The guest presenters arrived prior to the 10:00 A.M. opening ceremony. Included below is the arrival of Scott Grissom, the son of Gus Grissom, for a quick tour with The Space Museum President Earl Mullins and an interview with the HEC-TV (Higher Education Channel Television) crew. Lowell Grissom, the brother of Gus Grissom, is pictured with George Leopold, author of Calculated Risk: The Supersonic Life and Times of Gus Grissom. Additional interviews were conducted with Mark Nankivil, President of the Greater St. Louis Air & Space Museum, former McDonnell Douglas Design Engineering Manager Jerry Roberts, and seven-mission astronaut Jerry Ross.  


The ribbon cutting was held in front of the Grissom Center doors and included members of the Grissom family and local dignitaries. Members of the astronaut panel were also in attendance as Scott Grissom and Lowell Grissom cut the ribbon to start the festivities.

Following the opening ceremony, meet-and-greet sessions were held in the Heritage Hall with astronauts Linda Godwin, Tom Akers, Charles Walker and Dick Richards; former Space Shuttle Flight Director Rob Kelso; and Janet Ivey of Janet's Planet. Science and technology writer George Leopold and astronaut Jerry Ross autographed their books Calculated Risk and Spacewalker in the Grissom Center gift shop.

The afternoon session included a presentation and panel discussion with the distinguished guests, introduced by Earl Mullins and moderated by Janet Ivey. The program began with posting of the colors by the Civil Air Patrol color guard. Members of the Mac's Old Team, McDonnell Aircraft engineers who contributed to the design and construction of the Mercury and Gemini spacecraft, were recognized with great applause. Rob Kelso gave the keynote speech, "Zoo in Space?" featuring the roles animals played in space flight research. The panel discussion covered a range of topics related to the previous U.S. manned space programs, details of which will be featured in an upcoming post in this series.

As can be seen in this brief survey of the event, Opening Day at the Grissom Center was an enormous success for the community of Bonne Terre, MO and for those who traveled across the country to attend. We will include more coverage of the pre-event activities and ribbon-cutting ceremony in Part 2 of this series, followed by the autograph sessions and panel discussion in Part 3. 

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