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VIERS to Celebrate 45th Anniversary of Project Tektite I

Look back at Tektite 40th Anniversary

UVI’s Virgin Islands Environmental Resources Station (VIERS) will host a celebration of the 45th anniversary of Project Tektite I, which established an ambitious underwater habitat research project for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in the spring of 1969 on St. John. The celebration is planned for 10 a.m. on Saturday, March 29, by the St. John Historical Society and Clean Islands International, which operates VIERS for UVI.

Photo: A look back at the 40th anniversary of Tektite I.

The celebration will feature a short historic film about Tektite I, donated by Tektite Program Manager James Miller. A panel of original Tektite aquanauts, who used the underwater habitat to study living conditions similar to what future NASA astronauts would encounter in space, will also be present. The four – John VanDerwalker, Ed Clifton, Ian Koblick and Gary Davis – will share recollections about their roles in this historic scientific project.

Public tours of the Tektite Underwater Habitat Museum at VIERS will also be offered. Recent museum additions include updated artifact displays, a miniature model of the interior of the underwater habitat, and life-size replicas of the habitat’s control room and living quarters.

Museum visitors have been on the increase each year since its founding in 2006. “We are pleased to share with all our guests and visitors as much information as possible on the importance of Project Tektite in the history of sea and space exploration and its relationship to what has been going on here at VIERS in the past and today,” said Randy Brown, who initiated the museum and serves as its current curator.

“The museum’s collections are ever growing,” Brown said. “Donations of photographs, slides, films, home movies, newspaper clippings, and other Tektite related objects are appreciated.”

Events like this anniversary celebration “open up the past in a way that the written word just cannot capture,” said Brown, who is also the Executive Director of Clean Islands International. “It is always interesting to meet someone who has a connection to Project Tektite and hear stories about what really went on back then.” VIERS’ cabins, which served as the base camp for Project Tektite, are now used to support UVI’s research facility within the Virgin Islands National Park. Tours of UVI’s environmental education facility at VIERS will also be offered. 

Persons planning to attend the anniversary celebration are asked to RSVP with VIERS Manager Tony Blackwell by calling (340) 776-6721 or sending e-mail to tony@viers.org. For details contact Randy Brown via e-mail at randybrown@islands.org or call (410) 647-2500.