New Exhibit Examines Manned Space Travel



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Astronauts Rick Linnehan and Mike Foreman try out prototype system inside a mockup of NASA’s new Orion spacecraft (inset) built to take humans farther than they’ve ever gone before. A life-size model is now on display at Discovery Science Place in Tyler.

Photo courtesy of NASA.

“Orion- Journey to Mars,” the newest exhibit at Discovery Science Place in Tyler, is now open to the public. This interactive exhibit allows visitors of all ages to learn more about manned space travel through hands-on displays and a life-size model of NASA’s Orion space capsule.

Orion is NASA’s newest crew module that will carry four astronauts into deep space, back to the Moon, and eventually to Mars one day. The Discovery Science Place received the low-fidelity engineering mock up of the Orion capsule from NASA Houston in late 2014 and began designing their new exhibit with the model as its centerpiece. 

Features of the exhibit include a remote-controlled Mars rover, a spaceship-themed crew seat that guests can sit in complete with controls seen on the capsule, hands-on displays that highlight the difficulties of working in space using the gloves worn by astronauts, a “build and launch” rocket computer simulation and an interactive display that demonstrates the relationship between mass, gravity and weight.

“The Discovery Science Place is excited to bring this evolving exhibit focusing on current events in space exploration to East Texas students and families,” said museum executive director Chris Rasure. “As future news from the world of space science comes to light, whether that be about the search for water and the potential for life on Mars, or the first manned Orion test flights, we intend to add to and modify our exhibit to reflect those developments.”

The Discovery Science Place is a community-supported children’s museum that strives to inspire interest and education in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) learning through hands-on, interactive exhibits for children of all ages. Through its partnerships with community donors and local businesses, the Discovery Science Place offers an educational atmosphere where families are encouraged to create, invent and explore. The museum consists of three exhibit halls that house both signature exhibits that are permanently housed at the museum, as well as those that rotate through for special exhibitions.

The museum is open 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and 1 – 5 p.m. Sunday. For more information, including admission rates and memberships, visit the website at discoveryscienceplace.org.

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