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Downwinders, Down Time for Virgin Galactic, and Our Land’s Dark Skies

This week on New Mexico in Focus, the Tularosa Basin Downwinders Consortium has been trying for years to get the U.S. government to compensate families who were impacted by the Trinity nuclear test. Correspondent Russell Contreras speaks with Tina Cordova about the latest effort, which now has the support of a bipartisan pair of senators representing both New Mexico and Idaho. 
This month’s episode of Our Land focuses New Mexico’s relationship to the night sky. Inspired by Carl Sagan, who wrote about “cosmic isolationism” in his 1985 novel, Contact, correspondent Laura Paskus travels to Capulin Volcano National Monument in northeastern New Mexico to explore what it means to connect with the night sky – and protect it for future generations. 
As thousands of Afghan refugees arrive at New Mexico military bases, the state is prepared to welcome some of them into its communities. Senior producer Matt Grubs speaks with Deputy Human Services Secretary Angela Medrano, who helps oversee the state’s Refugee Resettlement Program, about the next steps and what the federal government is and is not disclosing about refugee arrivals. 
The Line opinion panel talks through the implications of the now-infamous flashing lights in the cockpit of Virgin Galactic’s VSS Unity ship during its maiden crewed voyage. The New Yorker magazine reported that the lights, which indicated the ship would deviate from its designated airspace, represented a major issue. Virgin Galactic disagreed, but the Federal Aviation Administration ordered the ship grounded while it investigates. The panel also takes up the issue of charter schools. As districts across the state suffer declining enrollment, especially during the pandemic, some are considering whether they should approve more schools that draw funding away from traditional district structures. Finally, the group talks about a proposed mental health hotline for New Mexico.

Host: Gene Grant 

The Line opinion panel: 
Eric Griego, former state senator 
Julie Ann Grimm, editor and publisher, Santa Fe Reporter 
H. Diane Snyder, former state senator


Tularosa Downwinders Try Again 
Correspondent: Russell Contreras 
Guest: Tina Cordova, Tularosa Basin Downwinders Consortium 

Our Land: Dark Skies 
Correspondent: Laura Paskus 
Kelly Ricks, astronomy volunteer, Capulin Volcano National Monument    
Bernard Poskus, park guide, Capulin Volcano National Monument   
Sam Finn, retired professor, physics and astronomy 
New Mexico’s Refugee Resettlement Program 
Correspondent: Matt Grubs 
Guest: Angela Medrano, deputy secretary, New Mexico Human Services Department