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2006 Tours

Tours Announced for ISDC 2006!

TOURS of five exciting facilites are currently planned for ISDC 2006. Mojave Spaceport, Space Exploration Technologies Corporation (SpaceX), Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Mount Wilson Observatory and the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center.


Mojave Spaceport-Sunday, May 7th, Depart 9:00 AM
Cost $40.00 Transportation Included
Mojave Airport has evolved from a sleepy desert general aviation destination to a world renowned flight research center hosting the latest and most advanced aeronautical designs. Hosting forty (40) companies engaged in light industrial to highly advanced aerospace design, flight test and research to heavy rail industrial.

The aerospace design companies include XCOR Aerospace, Orbital, Scaled Composites, Space Launch and Translunar. The ISDC bus tour of the Mojave Spaceport will also include a tour of XCOR!

We will arrive at Mojave Spaceport at aprox. 11:00 AM.  Our first company to visit is InterOrbital Systems in conjunction with Translunar Research:
The InterOrbital/TransLunar tour will include a guided walk through their building and a drive out to their rocket test stand area.  This portion of the tour will conclude at noon. No photos inside of buildings.  Any photos outdoors are permissible unless otherwise stated.

Lunch at the Voyager Restaurant 12:00PM  to 1:00PM.
After Lunch we will split into two groups for a tour of XCOR (see below)

Mojave Spaceport-XCOR Aerospace (included in Mojave Tour)

XCOR Aerospace was founded in September, 1999, in Mojave, California, by a proven team of aerospace engineers and technicians.  XCOR supplies complete rocket aircraft design, fabrication, and test services to the emerging suborbital space transportation industry.  XCOR Aerospace calls Mojave, California home. They are located in Hangar 61 on the Mojave Airport. Here XCOR is close to their test site - located on the eastern edge of the airport, and the excellent infrastructure of the airport itself. The XCOR shop is designed for rocket engine fabrication, and rapid turn-around of unique parts and designs.

The tour to the Mojave Spaceport is scheduled for Sunday , May 7th. The Spaceport is approximately 100 miles from the ISDC venue. Travel time will be approximately 2 hours each way. We plan to depar t at
9:00 AM and allow 2 1/2 hours for the tour and lunch. The estimated return time is 4:00 PM. Please meet at the designated bus loading area on Sunday morning at 8:45am. We will have people with signs identifying the tour in the lobby area of the Sheraton.

Space Exploration Technologies Corporation (SpaceX)-Wednesday, May 3rd, 3:00 PM Arrive
Capacity 30 persons
Cost $20.00 Persons responsible for their own transportation. (Persons must arrive at SpaceX by 3:00PM)

SpaceX is developing a family of launch vehicles intended to reduce the cost and increase the reliability of access to space ultimately by a factor of ten. Their design and manufacturing facilities are located in Southern California, near the Los Angeles airport, and their propulsion development and structural test facilities are located in Central Texas.

With the Falcon 1, Falcon 5 and Falcon 9 launch vehicles, SpaceX is able to offer light, medium and heavy lift capabilities. SpaceX is able to deliver space craft into any inclination and altitude, from low Earth orbit to geosynchronous orbit to planetary missions.

Their medium and heavy lift vehicles, Falcon 5 and Falcon 9, are the only US launch vehicles with true engine out reliability. <> . Falcon 5 and 9 are also designed such that both stages are reusable, making them the world’s first fully reusable launch vehicles. Falcon 1 has a reusable first stage and expendable upper stage.

Although drawing upon a rich history of prior launch vehicle and engine programs, SpaceX is privately developing the Falcon family of rockets from the ground up, including main and upper stage engines, the cryogenic tank structure, avionics, guidance & amp; control software and ground support equipment.

This tour will be available on Wednesday, May 3rd starting at 3 PM. The SpaceX facility is a short drive from the ISDC venue.

Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena California-Friday, May 5, 12:15 PM Depart
Capacity 80 personsCost $40.00
Transportation Included

JPL is a NASA center staffed and managed for the government by a leading private university, Caltech -- and thus is known as a federally funded research and development center. It was established by the California Institute of Technology in the 1930s. America's first satellite, Explorer 1, was created at JPL. In the decades that followed, JPL has sent the first robotic craft to the Moon and out across the solar system, reconnoitering all of the planets except one.

This is an exceptionally busy period for JPL in laying newpaths. The flagship explorer Cassini continues its looping orbits of Saturn, scrutinizing the ringed planet and its moons, including the haze-shrouded Titan. Like the alkaline batteries that don't give up, the Spirit and Opportunity rovers carry on in their ambles across the surface of Mars, probing rocks for signs of water in the planet's past. A little over two months before our tour, on March 10, a NASA spacecraft designed to examine Mars in unprecedented detail from low orbit will have entered orbit around Mars. This mission is expected to expand our scientific understanding of Mars, pave the way for our next robotic missions later in this decade, and help us prepare for sending humans to Mars. 

Not only will Mars Science Laboratory's landing and research areas be determined by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, but the first boots on Mars will probably get dusty at one of the many potential landing sites this orbiter will inspect all over the planet.

The JPL Public Services Office offers tours free of charge for groups. All tours are 2-2.5 hours in duration and commonly include a multi-media presentation on JPL entitled "Welcome to Outer Space," which provides an overview of the Laboratory's activities and accomplishments. Guests may also visit the von Karman Visitor Center, the Space Flight Operations Facility, and the Spacecraft Assembly Facility.

Your full name & nationality is required, please note any children. Foreign nationals (non-U.S. Citizens 18 years of age or older) are required to bring their passport or Visa, US citizens must have a photo ID, drivers license etc. Individuals without proper identification will not be admitted to the Laboratory.

The tour will require significant walking and stair climbing.  Wheelchair access can be accommodated with advance notice, however wheelchairs cannot be provided. Cameras are welcome. Don't forget to dress for the weather, the tour w ill proceed rain or shine! 
For additional info visit:

The JPL tour will be on Friday, May 5 at 2:00 PM. Estimated departure from the ISDC approximately 12:15 PM.

Mount Wilson Observatory-Wednesday, May 3rd, 9:00 AM Depart
Capacity 60 persons
Cost $40.00
Historic Mount Wilson Observatory is an astronomical research facility located in the San Gabriel Mountains of Southern California. Located on the summit of Mount Wilson above Pasadena at an altitude of 5715 feet (1742 meters), the
observatory is a one and a half hour bus ride away from the site of the ISDC. Visitors can view the historic Hooker 100-inch telescope from the Visitors' Gallery inside the dome. There is also a small a stronomical museum on the observatory grounds. Picnic tables are available at the Pavilion near the main parking lot where a commanding view of the Los Angeles basin is seen on clear days.

Founded in December 1904 by George Ellery Hale as one of the original scientific enterprises of the Carnegie Institution of Washington, Mt. Wilson Observatory is completing its first century as one of the world's premier astronomical observatories. During the first half of the twentieth century Mt. Wilson was successively home to the world's two largest telescopes as well as the most powerful facilities in existence for studying the sun. The 60-inch and 100-inch night-time telescopes and the 60-ft and 150-ft solar tower telescopes in the hands of the brilliant scientists who used them revolutionized astronomy through such discoveries as:
    •     recognition that the Sun is not at the center of the Milky Way galaxy
           proof that countless galaxies exist in addition to the Milky Way
    •     the existence of the magnetic field of t he sun and its key role in so lar activity
    •     the recession of the galaxies indicating the Big Bang origin of the Universe
    •     the existence of populations of stars of various ages in our galaxy

A 2 hour Walking tour of the observatory will be led by docents provided by the Mount Wilson
Observatory Association. For more information visit:

The Mt. Wilson Observatory tour is scheduled for Wednesday, May 3rd. The tour can accommodate approximately 60 people. The  departure time will be at 9 AM from the ISDC. Allowing for a 2 1/2 tour and lunch, the tour should return at 2:30 PM.  This tour will involve approximately 1 mile of walking with some stairs at elevation. Unfortunately, there are no handicap provisions. There are no concessions available at the Observatory, so a box lunch will be included.

Reuben H. Fleet Science Center-Saturday, May 6th, 9:00 AM Depart
Cost $40.00 Transportation Included. "At door" admission cost NOT included : see chart below
Transportation and box lunch included


With exhibits to touch, virtual reality to experience, films to see and fun to be had, the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center is an educational , entertaining experience for visitors of all ages.

The Science Center features more than 100 interactive science exhibits in five galleries, as well as major traveling exhibitions. Visitors can create colored shadows, design images with a sand pendulum, examine the vibration of guitar strings and get their hands on a variety of intriguing scientific phenomena. The Virtual Zone is perfect for adventurous and inquisitive visitors alike. A 23-passenger motion simulator ride offers white-knuckle thrills, while a six-person virtual reality adventure challenges participants to save the planet from a Meteor Storm. The Virtual Zone also features TryScience!, a multi-person science exploration station, with games and experiments on topics like dinosaurs and dolphins.

While most exhibits are suitable for ages seven to 107, younger children will enjoy Kid City, a vibrant exhibition aimed at children ages six and younger. Kid City is complete with a Book Nook, several Young Explorer Computers, a child-sized Grocery Store, a kids’ Factory and much more.

The Reuben H. Fleet Science Center is also home to the world's first IMAX Dome Theater, presenting the biggest films on the planet. Its unique configuration wraps the audience in images and provides the illusion of being suspended in space. Film topics take audiences from outer space to under water and every place in between, and are generally suitable for all ages. The IMAX Dome Theater also plays host to planetarium shows.

During your visit, look for the Demo Cart, where Interpreters provide demonstrations of scientific principles.

Since its opening, The Fleet has been the best-attended museum in the city and a Top 10 attraction in San Diego. It is located in beautiful Balboa Park, home to many of the city’s museums, as well as attractive gardens, intriguing architecture and picturesque fountains.

The Reuben H. Fleet Science Center offers :
    •     San Diego’s only giant IMAX Dome Theater showing fantastic IMAX film and stimulating         
           Planetarium Shows.
    •     Five world-class exhibit galleries with more than 100  exhibits
    •     The motion simulator ride, COMET IMPACT  . . . it’s a blast!
    •     Meteor Storm – a mind-blowing virtual reality experience
    •     TryScience!, where up to six people can go on a learning adventure simultaneously
    •     Kid City, an exhibition just for kids  up to age 6
           Simulated space missions in the Nierman Challenger Learning  Center

On Saturday, May 6, 2006, San Diego’s Reuben H. Fleet Science Center will celebrate Astronomy Day with a full schedule of events! Join us for astronomically fun family activities in the galleries, solar telescope viewing on the Prado (outside plaza) and special planetarium shows.  Visitors can embark on a “walk” of the Solar System, where a live astronomer will give tours of our planetary neighbors on a pinhead scale, mapped out in Balboa Park. Visitors to the Fleet can catch an IMAX film in San Diego’s only IMAX Dome theater, get “hands-on” with science and technology in five interactive exhibit galleries, and take a voyage on the incredible 23-passenger motion simulator ride.
For more information, visit:

The tour is scheduled for Saturday, May 6th, in conjunction with the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center celebration of Astronomy Day. Families are encouraged to attend. The tour will depart the ISDC at 9:00 AM, allowing for a noon arrival at the Science Center. After 4 action packed hours, the tour will depart the Science Center at 4:00 PM, returning to the ISDC at approximately 6:30 PM.