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Southern New Mexico Space Trail

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Home Base: Sierra County New Mexico

New Mexico has been a leader in the development of the Aerospace and Technology industries. The trend continues with the construction of Spaceport America, right here in our back yard.

Orbit 1SPACEPORT AMERICA

ticket information
Distance from downtown Truth or Consequences: 35 miles
Allow 3 hours for the tour
Depart from the Spaceport America Visitor Center

Spaceport America

The world’s first purpose-built commercial spaceport, located on 18000 acres next to the White Sands Missile Range, has been designed to accommodate almost any aircraft in the world, meeting the specific needs of returning launch vehicles, fly-back rocket boosters and other space launch and training vehicles.

Paid tours to the Spaceport site are designed to highlight New Mexico history spanning from Spanish conquistadores and pioneer rocket research to the new commercial space industry.
lunar pad at Spaceport America
Tours depart from the Spaceport America Visitor Center in Truth or Consequences and travel past the expansive concrete monolith of Elephant Butte Dam, after which the route coincides with the historic El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro trail—the Spanish ‘Royal Road’—that connected this region to Mexico City during much of the colonial period.

At the Spaceport, guests learn about the different components of the Spaceport America infrastructure, and why New Mexico is so ideally suited for space access. Interactive displays demonstrate concepts including zero gravity.

The tour includes updates on major players and trends in the emerging commercial space industry, along with predictions for new game-changing technologies like point-to-point transportation and space-based solar power. With so much happening in space every day—on-site and around the world—no two tours are ever quite the same.

Spaceport America under construction in 2011
Spaceport America ARFF
Space, Science & Technology-Related Attractions en route to Alamogordo’s Space Museum:

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Space Murals Museum

Space Mural Museum12450 US Hwy 70 East
Organ, NM 88052
Mon-Sat 9am-6pm, Sun 10am-6pm
Call for hours: 575-382-0977

The murals depict the progress of the US Space Program from the early flights of the X-15 to the fatal accident of the Challenger Space Shuttle.

Directions: I25 South to I70. 12 miles after turning onto Highway 70, exit onto Nasa Road, bear left, then immediately turn right at the Space Murals Museum sign (just before the ramp back onto US Hwy 70).

White Sands Missile Range Museum

White Sands Missile Range Museum

25 miles east on US 70 from Interstate 25, then (between markers 160 and 170) 3 miles south, 575-678-8824

Missile Park at White Sands Museum

At the White Sands Missile Range Museum you can trace the origin of America’s missile and space activity, find out how the atomic age began, and learn about scientists like Dr. Wernher von Braun and Dr. Clyde Tombaugh. Missile Range Park is next to the Museum and contains numerous missiles and rockets.

White Sands

White Sands National Monument

70 miles south on I25, 52 miles east on I70, 575-679-2599

White SandsWhite Sands, one of the world’s natural wonders, is open year-round, offering 275 square miles of great glistening wavelike dunes to explore. Stay in your car for the 8-mile scenic drive, or get out and play on the gypsum sand, then check out the Visitors Center and browse the gift shops. Ranger-guided walks and moonlight tours are available in summer. Be sure to bring plenty of water and food if you plan to hike.

Orbit 2THE NEW MEXICO MUSEUM OF SPACE HISTORY

via Interstate 25 South to exit 6 onto US Hwy 70

Space Museum, Alamogordo NM877-333-6589
575-437-2840

Round trip from downtown Truth or Consequences: 284 miles
Allow 8-10 hours if you’re returning to Sierra County

The Space History Museum in Alamogordo is home to the International Space Hall of Fame and is the designated repository for Spaceport America.

Attractions include the Clyde W. Tombaugh IMAX Dome Theater and Planetarium, the John P. Stapp Air / Space Park, Astronaut Memorial Garden, the Shuttle Camp Program, and the outdoor display of the restored Daisy Track, once used to test the human body’s tolerance to G-forces.

The Museum is closed Thanksgiving and Christmas Days.

Directions: while driving through Alamogordo on Highway 54/70, look for the New Mexico School for the Visually Handicapped. Turn toward the mountains on Indian Wells Road and drive to the end of the road. At the T-intersection, turn left on Scenic Drive. The entrance to the New Mexico Museum of Space History is just on your right.
Southeast of Alamogordo:

Sunspot Observatory

The Sunspot National Solar Observatory

Sunspot Solar Observatorytour info
575-434-7000

The Sunspot Solar Observatory includes a Visitor Center, maps for self-guided tours, and upon arrangement, guided tours.

Location: 17 miles south of Cloudcroft via the Sunspot National Scenic Byway

Orbit 2THE VERY LARGE ARRAY

the Karl G. Janksy National Radio Astronomy Observatory
575-835-7000
Distance from downtown Truth or Consequences: 123 miles
Allow 6-8 hours if you’re returning to Truth or Consequences.
Very Large Array

The VLA, located on the Plains of San Agustin, is open every day from 8:30am to sunset for free, self-guided tours of the VLA and the VLA Visitor Center. The VLA Gift Shop is open daily from 9am-4pm. The Gift Shop is closed Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Years Day.

FIRST SATURDAY TOURS OF THE VLA: the VLA’s Program Directory has recently created a lineup of special guided tours to be held on the first Saturday of every month, from 11am-4pm. No reservations are required.
Directions: 70 miles north on Interstate 25 to Socorro, then west on Highway 60
Space, Science & Technology-Related Attractions en route to the VLA:

Etscorn Observatory

Frank T. Etscorn Observatory

on Socorro’s New Mexico Tech campus

Etscorn Observatory on the New Mexico Tech Campus in Socorro NMA student-run observatory stocked with an impressive array of telescopes, the observatory is named after former Tech psychology professor Dr. Frank T. Etscorn (who also happened to invent the nicotine patch). Etscorn, an amateur astronomer, got the ball rolling by donating seed money in the early 1990s to purchase equipment for the Astronomy Club. source

Directions: Take either Socorro exit from Interstate 25. The business loop is California Street. Turn west from California onto Bullock, which becomes Olive. Take Olive to Canyon Road. Turn on Canyon Road heading west past the golf course. Make a right on Buck Wolfe Drive (1st stop sign; before campus police) and veer left at the fork in the road.

 

South of Socorro off I-25, on Highway 380 West (through San Antonio):

Trinity Site

Trinity Site Historical Marker

Closed to the public except for the 1st Saturday of April & October

Trinity Site marker in Southern New MexicoOn July 16, 1945, Manhattan Project scientists detonated the world’s first atomic bomb in the Jornada del Muerto desert. On tour days you can drive to the site and walk around unescorted, or join a caravan from Alamogordo (approximately 145 miles round trip). You’ll want to get an early start, as the gates close at 2pm.

You’ll find directions to the site on the White Sands website, or check SierraCountyEvents.com for more info.

Mileage
from Truth or Consequences via the routes shown above
mileage from white sands to Truth or Consequences

download a 3.5M pdf of the map below from the New Mexico Museum of Space History website

New Mexico Space Trails Map