Lost Spacecraft: The Search for Liberty Bell 7

"Lost Spacecraft- the Search for Liberty Bell 7" describes Curt Newport's 14-year obsession to raise Astronaut Gus Grissom's sunken Mercury spacecraft, Liberty Bell 7, from the depths of the Atlantic Ocean. Also told is how Newport's team managed to find the phone-booth sized space vehicle during the harrowing 1999 expedition. Newport later recovered Liberty Bell 7 during what remains the deepest commerical salvage operation in history, reutrning Grissom's craft to Cape Canaveral, Florida thirty eight years to the day after Grissom blasted off his tiny launch pad. 

Curt Newport retired in 2022 from Phoenix International Holdings after forty-seven years in the underwater profession. During his work with underwater vehicles, he operated Canadian, US, British, and Norwegian vehicles on an international basis, ranging from the Arctic to the “Roaring Forties,” the Persian Gulf, the North Sea, and both sides of the equator in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Overall, he has participated in over 150 undersea operations in water depths down to 5,500 meters (over 3.4 miles).

He has supported numerous undersea operations such as the salvage of Air India Flight 182, the Space Shuttle Challenger, the recovery of Liberty Bell 7, TWA 800, the broadcast of live images from the RMS Titanic, Air France flight 447, MH-370, the SS El Faro investigation, the USS Indianapolis, as well as many other classified missions involving the loss of military aircraft.

Along with Dr. Toby Schneider (Gobysoft - MIT), he also developed an autonomous pinger locator payload which successfully localized a simulated FDR in Buzzards Bay, MA using an Iver 3-580 AUV.

Newport’s exploration interests are not restricted to the deep ocean. In 2004, he successfully probed the Stratosphere using his Proteus 6 experimental rocket in the Black Rock Desert, Nevada. The 200 lb. vehicle reached a velocity of Mach 3 and an altitude of 14 miles while recording HD video and transmitting GPS data via an RF link to his ground station. He has also participated in cave explorations, helping map previously unexplored passages in Simons-Mingo Cave (West Virginia), Cave of the Winds (Colorado), as well as non-commercial sections of Luray Caverns (Virginia).
He has lectured on behalf of the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum, Kansas Aviation Museum, Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, Boston Museum of Science, St. Louis Science Center, the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center, and been interviewed by various media organizations such as NBC’s Today Show and Evening News, ABC’s Good Morning America, CNN, CBS Morning News, USA Today, Florida Today, British Broadcasting Company, Canadian Broadcasting Company, National Public Radio, CBS National Radio, Reuters, the History Channel, and the Associated Press.


Thursday, May 16, 2024


7:30 p.m. - 9 p.m.


Zoom (link shared day of the event)