Engineer Who Designed Key Component of Apollo Lunar Lander to Speak at Challenger Space Center Arizona

Peoria, AZ, January 24, 2014 – The public is invited to attend a special presentation entitled “Apollo Program Remembrances” by guest speaker Robert Benoit at Challenger Space Center Arizona on Saturday, February 1, 2014, beginning at 1:00 p.m. in the Steele Foundation Rotunda. 

The presentation coincides with NASA’s Day of Remembrance, also set for February 1.  The annual NASA commemoration honors the memories of the astronauts lost in the Apollo 1, Challenger, and Columbia accidents.  

 “Apollo Program Remembrances” is a signature event taking place during the Arizona Scitech Festival, which celebrates our state's leadership in science, technology and innovation.

Mr. Benoit’s presentation is included with paid general admission to Challenger Space Center.  Visitors are encouraged to tour the Center before or after the talk.  General admission is $8 for adults, $7 for seniors (55+) and military, $6 for students (3-12), free for children ages 2 and under and Challenger Members.  The Center is open from 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Monday–Saturday.     

Robert Benoit was an engineer with Grumman Aerospace, the company that served as chief contractor on the Apollo Lunar Module that took astronauts to the surface of the moon.  He was a Cognitive Engineer on the Thrust Translation Control Assembly (TTCA), which he designed, and the Attitude Control Assembly (ACA), designed by Honeywell. As a Cognitive Engineer, Benoit had complete responsibility for the design, testing, vehicle integration, and mission support of both controllers. 

The importance of the TTCA cannot be overstated.  It was this controller that enabled the Apollo lunar landings to be successful, as the necessity for manual control in the final stages of landing was critical.  Both of these pieces of equipment were used by astronauts to manually land the Lunar Module, as well as during the ascent and docking with the Command Module for return to the Earth. 

During the very first moon landing in 1969, Apollo 11 spacecraft commander Neil Armstrong had his hand on the TTCA when he took manual control of the Lunar Module as it was headed for a boulder-strewn area.  Armstrong and fellow astronaut Buzz Aldrin landed safely on the moon with less than 30 seconds of fuel left.

Now retired from engineering, Benoit has found an encore career as a teacher, where he strives to inspire students by sharing his compelling story of overcoming severe poverty to graduate from college and work in the aerospace industry – something he had dreamed of since childhood.

October 17, 2013, Peoria, Ariz. — Challenger Space Center Arizona is hosting a dinner and awards ceremony in recognition of individuals and corporations who have provided extraordinary support for the Center’s STEM education mission.

The 2nd Annual Chairman’s Awards Dinner will be held Saturday, November 2, 2013 from 6:30 – 10:00 p.m. in the Center’s Steele Foundation Rotunda.  Back by popular demand is special guest presenter, former U.S. Astronaut William G. Gregory, Pilot of Space Shuttle Endeavour STS-67.

Mr. Gregory and Noah Foote, Chairman of the Challenger Space Center Board of Directors, will recognize recipients of four 2013 Chairman’s Awards:  The Founder’s Supernova Award, Stellar Corporate Partner of the Year, Beacon Award for Volunteerism, and the Challenger Educator of the Year Award.   2013 Award Winners Announced


The Quirkles® Debut at Challenger Space Center This Month!

Peoria, AZ, September 11, 2013 – New this year, Challenger Space Center Arizona’s SpaceTots program will be using the Quirkles®, a set of colorful books that create excitement for reading and science through whimsical illustrations, alliteration, and fun hands-on science activities.

SpaceTots is Challenger Space Center’s exciting introduction to space and science designed specifically for children ages 4-6, accompanied by a parent or guardian.  The program is offered one Monday per month from 9:30-11:30 a.m.  Each class will introduce a different letter of the alphabet and kid-friendly science experiments using the Quirkles® books and characters.

For the full media release and other upcoming events & activities, click here:
Media Release_QuirklesSept2013