At the edge of the rugged cliff’s of the Sacramento Mountains, overlooking the sprawling white sands of the Chihuahuan Desert in New Mexico’s Tularosa Basin is a five-story golden cube of glass that’s impossible to miss.
The New Mexico Museum of Space History is a national sentry for education, collecting, preserving, and interpreting significant artifacts relevant to the history of space.
Located in Alamogordo, New Mexico and opened in 1976; the Museum is an immersive trip back to the origins of our nation’s space exploration program and the development of rocketry through the years.
Some favorites include Ham the Chimp’s space suit with a photo of him as he prepared for his space journey in 1961 (he is also buried here), and a replica of the Trinity site monument where the first atomic bomb was exploded.
You’ll love climbing into the Mercury Capsule and re-living the space flights; there are even spacesuits you can wear while you’re doing it.
As we said the surroundings and views are just breathtaking. With four floors of exhibits, here’s a little more of what you’ll experience and interact with at the Museum:
1) The Museum of Space History which houses exhibitions ranging from early rocket experiments to a mock-up of the International Space Station.
2) The International Space Hall of Fame which commemorates the achievements of men and women who have furthered humanity’s exploration of space while telling the story of the technological developments that made space travel possible.
3) Daisy Track commemorates aeromedical and space-related tests which were crucial in developing components for NASA’s Project Mercury orbital flights and the Project Apollo moon landing.
4) The New Horizons Dome Theater and Planetarium. The first dome theater in the world to feature the Spitz Sci Dome 4k Laser full-dome planetarium system.
5) The Museum Support Center. The facility where Museum employees and volunteers conserve and restore the many large artifacts exhibited at the Museum.
Outside are once in a lifetime views of the truly awesome White Sands National Monument. But don’t let the view distract you from The John P. Stapp Air & Space Park which features larger exhibits, such as the Apollo program’s Little Joe II rocket and the rocket sled that Stap, who became known as “Fastest Man Alive” rode to 632 mph in 1954.
While you’re out there be sure to spend some reflective time at the Astronaut Memorial Garden which is dedicated to the brave astronauts lost on the Apollo 1 and Space Shuttle Challenger and Columbia missions.
New Mexico has played a significant role in the U.S. Space Program, from Robert Goddard’s rocketry innovations in Roswell back in 1930, to the establishment of the White Sands Proving Ground in support of the Manhattan Project. Whether its missile and rocket testing or the design of radio telescopes; researchers in New Mexico have found answers to major manned spaceflight questions and the state remains a hotbed of space exploration learning to this day.
The Museum’s Educational Program includes the New Mexico Rocketeer Academy Summer Camp, Science Education Standards, the Portable Planetarium and the beloved Museum Camp-Ins.
The Museum is about an hour from La Cruces, NM on U.S. 54 and 90 minutes from El Paso, TX on U.S. 70. Once there, you’ll find plenty of parking on two levels situated between the International Space Hall of Fame and the Clyde W. Tombaugh Space Theater. There’s also parking for RV’s.
The Museum is closed on Tuesdays and open from Noon to 5:00 PM on Sunday’s. The rest the week it’s open from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM.
New Mexico Museum of Space History
3198 State Route 2001
Alamogordo, NM 88310