Kansas Cosmosphere President Chris Orwoll to be Wichita Aero Club Luncheon Speaker on June 22

May 26, 2010 8:24am

Space may be the “final frontier” according to Gene Rodenberry and TV’s “Star Trek,” but it’s Chris Orwoll’s back yard these days…or at least it must seem that way. As the Chief Executive Officer of the Kansas Cosmosphere in Hutchinson, he must feel like he blasts off into the distant corners of the universe every time he leaves for work in the morning. His regular routine brings him into contact with men who have walked on the moon and men and women who have lived for months hundreds of miles above the Earth in the International Space Station and walked in space tethered by only thin cords and tubes. He will address the Wichita Aero Club at its monthly luncheon at noon on Tuesday, June 22 at the Wichita Airport Hilton. Tickets can be obtained online at or by calling the Wichita Aero Club at 316.641.5962.

“Chris is surrounded by the future…and the past at what has to be the best Space museum this side of the moon…or at least Washington, DC,” said Dave Franson, Wichita Aero Club Executive Director. “The Kansas Cosmosphere is an incredible collection of space artifacts that represent both where man has gone in the roughly half century since he started blasting into the vastness of space and the potential that exploration to the edges of the known universe could take us. What’s so amazing is the stuff that we have right here in Kansas that has been to the moon and back with the crew of Apollo 11, that has been into space and to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean and been salvaged—on Liberty Bell 7—and has been built in the old Soviet Union and designed to dock in space with our Apollo spacecraft, the Soyuz 7. It’s worth having Chris talk to the Aero Club just to explain how we managed to get all of these great exhibits here, in Hutchinson. Adding a few astronaut stories and talking about the Space Program in general will be an added bonus,” Franson added.

Orwoll came to the Cosmosphere after having spent a considerable time in confined spaces—but under water rather than in space. He began his career in the Navy in 1982, serving aboard the submarines USS OHIO (Division Officer and Tactical Systems Officer), USS TUCSON (Operations Officer), and the USS DOLPHIN (Executive Officer).

He also worked in the education field, teaching naval science for the Naval ROTC units at both Cornell University and the University of Kansas. While at KU, he served as the Naval ROTC unit’s commanding officer. Mr. Orwoll earned his bachelor’s in Naval Architecture from the United States Naval Academy and his master’s in Strategic Studies from the Air War College. He retired from the Navy in 2007 and was hired as president and CEO of the Cosmosphere in March of that year.

The Wichita Aero Club was founded in October of 2008 to foster and promote interest in aviation, provide a forum focused on the industry’s issues and achievements and bring together those with a passion for flight.