Roger That! celebrates space exploration and the life of Grand Rapids native, Roger B. Chaffee, a former American naval officer and aviator aeronautical engineer, and NASA astronaut in the Apollo program. The GRPM and Grand Valley State University are proud to bring you the eighth annual Roger That! symposium on the weekend of February 16 + 17, 2024.

Highlights for Roger That! 2024

Roger That! Celebration at the Museum

GRPM Keynote Speaker

Roger That! is pleased to announce our 2024 keynote speaker, Dr. Robert Satcher. Astronaut Robert Satcher is a distinguished American physician, chemical engineer, and former NASA astronaut. Satcher holds a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from MIT and an M.D. from Harvard Medical School. He joined NASA’s astronaut corps in 2004 and flew aboard STS-129 in 2009, a mission to the International Space Station. During this mission, Dr. Satcher performed two spacewalks, contributing to the maintenance and assembly of the station. Known for his versatility, he is the first orthopedic surgeon in space, showcasing his diverse expertise in medicine and engineering. Beyond his space endeavors, Satcher is renowned for his research in musculoskeletal oncology and tissue engineering, along with his commitment to cancer research and treatment. His career reflects a unique blend of scientific innovation, medical excellence, and adventurous exploration.

He will be speaking in the Grand Rapids Public Museum’s Meijer Theatre at 11 a.m. on Saturday, February 17, 2024

Admission to the lecture is free, registration is required. 

Public Activities at the GRPM
Friday & Saturday, February 16 + 17 2024

Join the GRPM for the public celebration of Roger That! on Friday, February 16 and Saturday, February 17. Visitors will learn more about Roger B. Chaffee and space exploration with hands-on, STEAM-based activities on Friday and Saturday, hosted by both the Museum and community partners including: build stations, underwater ROV exploration, artifact interactions including meteorite samples, tektite, and much more. Attendees can also participate in the opportunity to earn a prize for completing an “Astronaut Training Mission” as they visit different activity stations around the Museum. 

Community partners for 2024 Roger That! include Gerald R. Ford International Airport, GVSU Padnos College of Engineering, GVSU Physics Department Enigma Robotics, GRAAA, Inquiry Arts, Mark Gleason Underwater ROV, Van Andel Institute for Education, Grand Rapids Children’s Museum, WiM (Women In Manufacturing), Air Zoo Aerospace & Science Center, and Girl Scouts of West Michigan.

Roger That! activities at the GRPM will be available from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Friday, February 16 and 10 a.m to 4 p.m. on Saturday, February 17, and are included with general admission tickets to the Museum. Shows in the Chaffee Planetarium take place every hour on February 17 and are $4 per person or $2 for Museum members. For a full list of activities, Chaffee Planetarium show schedule and to purchase tickets, visit To reserve a seat for the Saturday lecture with Robert Satcher, please visit Tickets for the lecture are free of charge and seating is based on a first come, first served basis.

GVSU Academic Conference 
Friday, February 16, 2024

Join GVSU for a free academic conference on Friday, February 16, open to educators and the general public. Keynote speaker, Robert Satcher, and other speakers will speak virtually, and in-person at GVSU’s Seidman College of Business at 50 Front Ave SW. at 6 p.m. on Friday, February 16.

2024 speakers include:

  • Robert Satcher, Astronaut & keynote speaker.
  • Mark Staves, Professor of Biology, Grand Valley State University (Zoom/In-Person hybrid format)
  • Niamh Shaw, Space Journalist, Scientist, and Educator, Dream Big Space and Science Communications (Zoom).
  • Tim Evans, Director, GVSU Herbarium and Professor of Biology, Grand Valley State University (Zoom).
  • George Pantalos, Professor of Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery and Biomedical Engineering, University of Louisville (Zoom).
  • Debarati Chattopadhyay, Europa Clipper Operations Technical Lead at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (Zoom).
  • Mihir Gondhalekar, Co-Founder at StarPath (Zoom).
Niamh Shaw

The GVSU events taking place on Friday February 16, 2024 will be free, but guests must register ahead of time. Registration will take place online at the Roger That! website. There will be a reception with light refreshments and time to view 2024’s Design That! design challenge entries, submitted by local students in the fourth through eighth grades.

Design That! 2024

Design That! is a design challenge offered to 4 th – 8 th grade students in the greater Grand Rapids area that focuses on four major areas related to space exploration:

  • Humans in Space
  • Communities in Space
  • Technology in Space
  • Life in Space

Examples of things you can do:

  • Explain concepts related to space or space exploration.
  • Write a story or perform a play about space travel or life in space.
  • Design clothing, buildings, or devices for space travel or life in space.
  • Build physical devices (robots or models) to be used in space exploration.
  • Create a webpage or computer model relevant to space or space exploration.
  • Discuss historical events in space exploration, such as moon landings and other missions.

How to Particpate:

  1. Select a topic, form a team (recommended size 2-6 students), and do the research on your topic.
  2. Email your project reflection (details below) to by Friday, February 2, 2024.
  3. Student teams can create physical models and/or a short (3-5 min) video describing their projects.

Project Reflection (up to 3 pages including figures and bibliography):

  1. Your reason(s) for choosing the problem.
  2. Your research into the problem.
  3. Your solution to the problem.
  4. Something(s) you learned that surprised you.
  5. The most challenging part of your project.

Participation in Design That! can align with the following K-12 Standards: 

  • Michigan K-12 Science Standards Performance Expectations:
    • MS-PS2-1. Forces and Interactions
    • MS-PS3-3. Energy
    • MS-LS2-5. Interdependent Relationships in Ecosystems
    • MS-ESS1-2. Space
    • MS-ESS3-3. Human Impacts
    • MS-ETS1-1 through MS-ETS1-4. Engineering design.

  • NGSS Science and Engineering Practices: Defining Problems, Developing and Using Models, Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions, Engaging in Argument from Evidence, Obtaining,
    Evaluating, and Communicating Information.

  • ELA Common Core Standards by Domain: Comprehension and Collaboration, Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas, Production and Distribution of Writing, Research to Build and Present Knowledge.

Roger B. Chaffee Planetarium.

Continue celebrating space exploration by visiting the GRPM’s Chaffee Planetarium. 

February 2024 Shows:

  • One World, One Sky
  • Living Worlds
  • Anishinaabe Star Knowledge
  • Under Starlit Skies
  • Secrets of the Sun
  • Let it Snow!

Shows in the Chaffee Planetarium take place every hour on February 17 and are $4 per person or $2 for Museum members. 

In addition to planetarium shows, the GRPM also partnered with astronaut Brent Bos and created a set of new interactive experiences outside of the Chaffee Planetarium. These include a lunar crater station, meteors under a microscope and a meteor pinball machine. 

The Planetarium lobby also features an exhibit with Roger B. Chaffee artifacts that tell a detailed story of his life.

Apollo 1 Tragedy

On January 27, 1967, tragedy struck NASA’s Apollo program when a flash fire occurred in command module 012 during a launch pad test of the Apollo/Saturn space vehicle being prepared for the first piloted flight, the AS-204 mission. Three astronauts, Lt. Col. Virgil I. Grissom, a veteran of Mercury and Gemini missions; Lt. Col. Edward H. White, the astronaut who had performed the first United States extravehicular activity during the Gemini program; and Grand Rapids Native Roger B. Chaffee, an astronaut preparing for his first space flight, died in this tragic accident.

The Grand Rapids Public Museum renamed its planetarium to the Roger B. Chaffee Planetarium the same year.

This event, scholarly in nature and open to the general public, is co-organized by the Grand Rapids Public Museum, Grand Valley State University, and the Roger B. Chaffee Scholarship Fund. Roger That! seeks to honor Chaffee and highlight local research in a two-day celebration of space exploration.

Roger That! 2024 Community Partner Participation Form

This is your chance to get involved in an exceptional educational program that celebrates space exploration, science, and technology. Whether your organization focuses on education, community engagement, or science and technology, participating in Roger That! offers an enriching experience for your team and visibility within the community. Complete the form below to join us in inspiring curiosity and lifelong learning. We’re excited to collaborate with you to make this event truly out of this world!

Sponsored By: