The 200-acre site in the Pisgah National Forest was once a NASA space station before being handed over to the U.S. Department of Defense in 1981, during the Cold War. The institute took it over in 1999. When controlled by NASA, the facility played a critical role in the pioneering days of the U.S. space effort. Some of the instruments used to communicate with the earliest space flights are still in operation.
The public will have the opportunity to tour the facility, free of charge, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Oct. 26. The facility was first opened up to the public the same day in 1963. But the open house is just one aspect of the event-filled weekend planned at the institute. A NASA veteran is scheduled to talk about early spaceflight and a night-sky viewing session is planned.