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MSU breaks ground on #036;15.6 million facility

Staff Report

MOREHEAD, Ky. — Morehead State University broke ground Thursday on the largest capital project in the school’s history.

Board of Regents members, state officials and MSU representatives gathered for the ceremony to celebrate the start of the construction on the $15.6 million research and instructional support facility, which will house the Ronald G. Eaglin Space Science Center.

Education Cabinet Secretary Laura E. Owens, representing Gov. Ernie Fletcher, House Majority Floor Leader Rocky Adkins (D-Sandy Hook), Sen. Charlie Borders (R-Grayson), and President Wayne D. Andrews addressed the crowd.

Already under construction just east of Normal Hall on Vaughan Drive, the two-story, state-of-the-art building will encompass 45,000 square feet of floor space.

It will include a control center for the 21-meter space antenna system on the ridge top above Nunn Hall, RF and electronics laboratories, an anechoic chamber that mimics the electromagnetic environment of space, an advanced computing facility, a rooftop antenna test range, fabrication laboratory, classrooms, offices and reception area, and a digital Star Theatre.

The yet-unnamed building will serve as a research and development facility for fundamental and applied research and for instruction in the space science and astrophysics degree programs.

“This exciting project is a tribute to the vision and imagination of those who conceived the space science program and to the pride and determination of our legislative alumni, especially Rep. Rocky Adkins and Sen. Charlie Borders, who were key players in our state funding for this component,” said President Andrews.

“A dream coming true” is how the construction project is described by Dr. Ben Malphrus, professor of space science and director of the SSC.

MSU is among only four institutions in the U.S. with an available bachelor’s degree in space science.

The control center will remotely operate the 21-meter antenna, a 13-meter antenna, a 24-foot antenna system and UHF/VHF antenna systems utilized for satellite mission support and research in radio frequency astrophysics. These systems will be operated from the center which will schedule satellite passes, acquire telemetry from satellites, and operate the largest antenna in radio telescope mode.

The digital Star Theatre will be a 121-seat, multi-function, digital classroom. The room will have a full dome projection system with six digital star projectors and surround sound systems. The Star Theatre will be used as an instructional tool for MSU space science students, visiting K-12 students and the general public.

The Star Theatre will host special events such as planetarium shows, NASA-produced videos and commercial IMAX-style movies in 360-degree format.

D. W. Wilburn Inc., of Lexington is the general contractor and Hastings and Chivetta of St. Louis, Mo., is the project architect.

Work is expected to be completed in early 2009.