Did You Know That Right In The Heart Of East Texas, NASA Has A Facility That's Super Important To Our Study Of Space That You Can Visit?

Having been in East Texas for only 3 years now, I'm still learning and discovering awesome things about our area and some of the "hidden" gems that nobody told me about.

The only thing I know about Palestine is that when I first got here I got hammered by folks for pronouncing it wrong (its PALE-STEEN so get it right if you're coming this way) but now I know that the East Texas town has something a lot of folks here didn't know existed: A NASA Site!

Its Called The Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility Or CSBF.

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The CSBF was established in Boulder, Colorado in 1961 under the auspices of the National Science Foundation. The facility was moved to Palestine, Texas in 1963 and designated as the National Scientific Balloon Facility in January 1973 according to its website.

The Facility provides complete balloon operations services and engineering support to the United States and foreign scientific communities. The operations services include inflation, launching of the balloon, tracking and recovery of the payload, and telecommand and data retrieval with reliable electronics systems.

In over 25 years of operation, the Facility has launched more than 1700 balloons for 35 universities, 23 other research agencies, and 33 foreign groups.

 

On February 1, 2003, the Space Shuttle Columbia and crew were lost over the East Texas skies during re-entry into Earth's atmosphere. On February 1, 2006, the National Scientific Balloon Facility was renamed the Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility as a reminder of what the Columbia’s crew stood for: honor, bravery, and the quest for knowledge for generations to come. The official renaming ceremony was held at the Facility on February 23, 2006.

Are Visitors Welcome? YES... but Call Ahead!

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If you're a space junkie that's interested in learning more about how balloons are used to go to space, they offer tours in the spring on a best effort basis (May through August), Monday through Friday from 8am to 2pm and you can find more information on how to schedule a tour at their website.

The best move is to call a week in advance to schedule, because it's a guided tour and someone will answer questions during it. The tour is free and takes about an hour so go check it out next time you're in Palestine!

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