Headlines > News > Space expo organizers look to the future

Space expo organizers look to the future

Published by Robin on Tue Oct 11, 2005 8:08 pm
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Oct 11, 2005, 10:59 am

Whether it was a play on words or not, Peter Diamandis, chairman and chief executive officer of the X Prize Foundation, said he had a “blast” at Sunday’s Countdown to the X Prize Cup Expo.

Sunday’s event, which drew as many as 20,000 people to Las Cruces International Airport, exceeded expectations of X Prize, city and state officials, and some exhibitors.

“This is a first-time event and there’s so much of the unknown,” said Ian Murphy, X Prize spokesman.

“The learning curve for us is tremendous. Our No. 1 goal was to put on a good show and have people going away feeling like they had a good time,” Murphy said.

“I hope we did that; and we learned a lot about what we need to do to make this show even better.”

Las Cruces police said there were no major problems at the event. People attending the show had to park at the Southern New Mexico State Fairgrounds and take shuttle buses to and from the airport.

“Getting people in with the buses was good, but there needs to be a better set up when people exit to catch the bus back,” said Joe Florini of Las Cruces, who attended the event with 11 family members. “Some people didn’t know that there was a line at the exit and had to walk back when they got to the front.”

Mayor William “Bill” Mattiace said he was particularly impressed with police and airport staff members for coordinating what turned out to be a good event.

“They really went above and beyond the call of duty,” Mattiace said. “The police and the airport staff really made the extra effort to make this a really nice event.”

Mattiace added that one parking lot at the fairgrounds was capable of handling 1,200 cars. That lot was full.

As with any public event there were some glitches. Jenny Paredes, a Las Cruces secretary, said there should have been more food booths.

“There was only really one food booth and a couple of others that sold stuff like nachos,” Paredes said. “The lines were long and that took away from being able to really see all the other displays. I hope next year they plan better for more food booths.”

Lines were also long for some of the exhibits, especially a mobile display by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

“We wanted to see what they had inside their trailer, but we had to get out of line because my daughter had to go to the bathroom,” said Melanie Louden of El Paso.

“After we took care of her, we had to get back at the end of the line. Altogether, we wound up spending almost an hour in line.”

Patsy Astorga of El Paso suggested that event organizers consider making the venue larger at the airport.

“They need to open the space up. It was too crowded in some places,” Astorga said. “I’ve been to the (Amigo) air show in El Paso and there’s plenty of room there. It would be better if they could make more room to get everything in.”

Murphy said next year’s expo will be bigger.

“It will be a two-day event next year,” Murphy said. “For shows like this, statistics show that growth from the first year to the next is exponential. We’ve done this once and imagine how much we’ve learned. Look around and what do you see: babies in strollers, families, older people. All of this proves that everybody wants to go to space.”

Steve Bennett, chief executive officer of Starchaser Industries, said the success of Sunday’s show could motivate other companies that didn’t participate to come in future years.

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