Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex Previews New Astronaut Training Experience
While a manned space mission to Mars may still be years away, amateur astronauts will soon be able to get up close and personal with the Red Planet, thanks to a new exhibit at the Delaware North-operated Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex (KSCVC).
Members of the media this week previewed KSCVC’s new Astronaut Training Experience (ATX) Center, which is set to formally open on Feb. 6. The exhibit features two programs — the Astronaut Training Experience, which provides visitors the opportunity to train like an astronaut preparing to go to Mars, and Mars Base 1, which will simulate the trip to Mars and life on the planet.
“We’re offering something that most people thought they would never get to do in their lifetime,” Therrin Protze, chief operating officer of Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, told WFTS-TV. “For anyone who has wondered what it would be like to feel like an astronaut, to train like they train, face the challenges and issues they have to work through while under extreme pressure, Astronaut Training Experience and Mars Base 1 are now available to everyone.”
ATX uses immersive simulation technology and real NASA science to provide visitors the most realistic understanding of the experiences and challenges that astronauts traveling to space will someday have.
“People are captivated by the idea of Mars, and we wanted to be able to give most people who would never have the chance of going there the most immersive experience,” Dee Maynard, education programs manager at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, told Fox News.
Jon McBride, a former astronaut who works for Delaware North at KSCVC, believes ATX will inspire today’s grade-schoolers to be tomorrow’s Mars explorers.
“I look back on my childhood and I was inspired by people who came and talked about futuristic things and the possibilities that you can do pretty much anything you want to do,” he said in an interview with WFME. “I love to see the sparkle on kids’ eyes when I talk to them about them being perhaps the first person to walk on Mars one of these days. You can see their eyes light up.”