View Rockets at the Spaceport America Cup, Discover the Rich History of Space Exploration and Research

Las Cruces, New Mexico—the place for space and official city of Spaceport America—will host the kickoff to the 2022 Spaceport America Cup. The world’s largest intercollegiate rocketry conference and competition, the Spaceport America Cup will showcase the talents of over 1,700 students and competitors from across the globe, running June 21–25.

Community members and visitors are invited to attend the Spaceport America Cup kickoff at the Las Cruces Convention Center on Tuesday, June 21. During the event, students and teams will have their rockets on display, and informational and educational booths will be available to the public. For those who want to watch the live rocket launches, ESRA will stream the launches Wednesday–Saturday, as well as the closing ceremony on Saturday, June 25 from 8­–10pm. Live streams will take place on the Spaceport America Cup Facebook page.

As part of the Spaceport America Cup, four local universities are competing in the 2022 event. All four teams—The University of New Mexico, New Mexico Tech, New Mexico State University, and the University of Texas at El Paso—will be battling for the 2022 Chile Cup title.

While in town for the Spaceport America Cup, space lovers will find a variety of attractions and activities to explore, including diving into the area’s pivotal role in space research and exploration. Suggested activities include:

Visit the birthplace of America’s Missile and Space Program at White Sands Missile Range. As the launching point for the rocket that took the first image of Earth from space in 1946, White Sands Missile Range now displays a variety of missiles and rockets tested at White Sands.

Observe the night skies. With wide-open spaces, the Las Cruces night sky offers a unique star-gazing opportunity. Visit the Tortugas Mountain Observatory, the site of NASA’s early planetary imaging and monitoring. Today, the reflector telescope serves New Mexico State University students, as well as research projects and star monitoring. There’s also the Tombaugh Observatory, named by Las Cruces’ own renowned astronomer—Clyde Tombaugh—and featuring a telescope custom-built by Tombaugh. The observatory is located on the NMSU campus, providing learning opportunities for students and visitors alike. With an array of telescopes, visitors can view the night sky and learn about astronomy.

Visit the Museum of Nature and Science. Featuring an interactive area dedicated to Light and Space, the museum provides visitors a glimpse into the galaxy with a variety of exhibits and activities. Explore a mechanical model of the solar system, learn about the color of stars, experiment with refracting light, look through a telescope made by famed local astronomer Clyde Tombaugh, and see images from NASA.

Explore Kilbourne Hole, a National Natural Landmark and the training site for Apollo Missions 12–17 as a lunar model. This maar volcanic crater is a must see. Perfect for stargazing and enjoying some time in nature, Kilbourne Hole is believed to be between 24,000 and 100,000 years old. The site offers hiking trails ranging in difficulty from beginner to experienced. High-clearance vehicles are recommended for access.

Walk through the International Space Hall of Fame at the New Mexico Museum of Space History. Located in nearby Alamogordo, the museum takes visitors on a journey through New Mexico’s vital role in space exploration. Take in a planetarium show, explore the history of rockets, and even try on a space suit to get the astronaut experience.

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