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  • Sara Thompson

Reaching for the Sky

By Sara Thompson

Special to the Enterprise

First off, Explorit would like to thank everyone who donated to us this year during Big Day of Giving! Your generous contributions will help us to do some much-needed planning and safety preparations with our facilities and programs as we head towards our reopening. We are cleaning up and taking steps to plan, plant, and maintain our backyard pollinator garden. We will be freshening up paint inside our exhibit space and our exterior signs. Explorit is also very excited for a new addition to our front picnic area. Generously donated from the Sacramento SMUD Museum of Science and Curiosity and Aerojet Rocketdyne, we will be displaying the engines from a Titan II rocket.

Rocket blasting off
Gemini 8 spacecraft, launched from Kennedy Space Center on March 16,1966

The Titan II rockets were first

created for use in the military in 1960, succeeding the Titan I which was built in the mid-1950’s. Titan II rockets are probably most famous for their use in NASA’s Project Gemini as the launch vehicle. NASA modified the military rocket for their mission because they were the latest technology of the time and had accurate flight and guidance systems.

The Titan II rockets have a two-stage process, perfect for breaking through the many layers of atmosphere the Earth has. The first stage was powered by a modified LR87 engine, which has two separate combustion chambers and nozzles, but was fed by a single mechanism. The second stage of the rocket was composed of a single combustion chamber and nozzle. The second stage rocket used regenerative cooling, where some of the fuel is first passed through tubes or pipes to cool the engine, before being used in the engine itself.

The rockets went through several other modifications to make it safe for manned missions. Flight and guidance systems were improved and updated. Violent vibrations and shaking was dealt with to make travel more comfortable for the astronauts. Various checks and sensors were put in place to notify crews of any issues or malfunctions. The Titan II rockets were used to launch twelve Gemini Missions between 1964-1966, paving the way to the Apollo Missions, where we first walked on the moon.

When schools and guests come to visit Explorit, it would make for a great group picture. We hope these rockets and our programs will continue to inspire young scientists to keep looking and reaching for the sky and beyond. Currently, we are looking to reopen our exhibit doors to the public and schools sometime in the fall, after our Summer Science Camps are over, and we are confident we can reopen safely for everyone.


Explorit's coming events:

• Explorit has extended our After-school camps through May, and plenty of spaces are still available. Camps are Monday-Friday from 3:30-5:30pm for students in grades K-6. Price is $120 Members/$145 Non-Members. Additional information and registration can be found at

• Explorit’s Summer Science Camp is back for 2021! Beginning in June and running through to the beginning of August, our camps are filled with fun, hands-on science activities. Summer camp runs from 8:00-11:15am Monday-Friday. Fee for summer camp is $175 for Members/$200 for Non-Members. Available camps are designed for grades K-3, 1-4, and 4-6. Visit for more information and registration.

• Due to COVID-19 restrictions and the health and safety of our staff and visitors, our gallery will remain closed. Staff regularly check messages and email.

• Like many small businesses the closures have had a significant impact on our income and sustainability. Now is a great time to donate and help Explorit continue to educate and inspire the scientists of tomorrow:

• Continue to support Explorit during this uncertain time by becoming a member. An Exploit Membership not only support us but grants the recipient with free visits to Explorit’s regular public hours, discounts on events, summer and after-school camps, and workshops, and gives you ASTC benefits to visit other museums throughout the world. For more information visit or call Explorit at 530-756-0191.


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