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Experience thrill of space exploration for free at NASA Marshall Open House Saturday, May 20

May 08, 2000

On Saturday, May 20, you can experience some of the thrill of space exploration without leaving Earth -- or opening your wallet. "Open House 2000" at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., will take you on a daylong space adventure for free.

Food and official NASA souvenirs also will be available for purchase.

From 9 a.m.-6 p.m. you can create your own space voyage, whether lifting off on a simulated trip to Mars, mingling with robots and astronauts, or strolling through a full-scale mock-up of the International Space Station.

"Our Marshall Open House is an opportunity to get an up-close look at the cutting edge technology driving our nation's space program," says Marshall Center Director Art Stephenson. "We are, indeed, opening doors to the future, and I'm particularly excited about introducing our children to what we do here."

Attractions and entertainment include:

Space-related attractions
  • Space Shuttle Pavilion: Learn what makes up the primary elements of Space Shuttle as it is prepared for launch and space missions. See a full-size main engine, displays of the external tank, and video footage of a solid rocket motor and solid rocket booster.

  • Magnetic levitation track: Learn how sports cars that speed from 0-60 mph in four seconds have met their match. See a new advanced space transportation concept that accelerates a model spacecraft from 0-60 mph in less than half of a second -- just one of the launch technologies the Marshall Center is developing to make space travel more affordable.

  • International Space Station: See the real International Space Station hardware under construction, then stroll through a full-scale mockup of the station.

  • X-Vehicles: See new scale models of the X-33, X-34 and X-37 technology demonstrators -- vehicles aimed at opening a "highway to space" by slashing launch costs.

  • Robots: Talk with Oscar, a roaming, entertaining robot. And see locally built robots demonstrate their skills by competing against each other in a special robotic test facility.

  • Wind tunnel: Witness an actual test at a Marshall wind tunnel, where winds up to five times the speed of sound -- about 3,800 mph -- are used to perfect NASA launch vehicles.

  • Environmental Test Facility: See where NASA simulates the emptiness of space and its extreme temperature ranges to test space flight hardware.

  • Interactive educational demonstrations and movies: Learn about "toys" that fly in space with astronauts and other topics that will enlighten all ages.

  • Moonbuggy vehicles: See vehicles that were designed, built and raced by students from around the nation at Marshall's annual "Great Moonbuggy" race in April. The buggies address the same engineering challenges faced by the original NASA Lunar Roving Vehicle Moonbuggy team at Marshall. See an original NASA-built Moonbuggy in the Marshall Heritage Gallery.

  • Space telescopes: See where NASA's Great Observatory -- the Chandra X-ray Observatory -- was tested, including the one-third-mile long X-ray tunnel that simulates the stellar sources Chandra observes in space. Learn how NASA is making mirrors for the next generation of space telescopes.

  • Astronaut life support: See where NASA develops air and water systems for the Space Station crew. Learn about advanced technologies for turning today's wastewater into tomorrow's drinking water.

  • Spacelab Payload Operations Control Room: See where Marshall managed and controlled science experiments for all Spacelab missions. Sit at a Spacelab console and relive a Spacelab mission -- complete with Earth-to-space audio transmissions.

  • Rockets: See and learn about history-making NASA rockets that gave Huntsville its "Rocket City" nickname. See miniature versions of those rockets launched with flashes of fire and billowing smoke by the Huntsville Area Rocketry Association.

  • Redstone Rocket Test Stand: Visit the historic facility where engines were tested for the rocket that successfully launched Alan Shepard to become America's first human in space.

  • Spacecraft models: See detailed models of conceptual spacecraft designs, as well as the fanciful spaceships of Star Trek, Star Wars, and other popular science fiction shows, courtesy of the Huntsville Plastic Modelers Society.

  • Model airplanes: See model airplanes that introduce young people to the joys of building aircraft and watching them fly, courtesy of the Tennessee Valley Aviators.


  • Astronauts: Learn about space travel from those who have experienced it. NASA astronauts will be on hand to answer questions and sign autographs.

  • "Rocket Boy": Meet -- and get your book signed by -- Homer Hickam, the former NASA Marshall engineer who wrote the novel "Rocket Boys," on which the hit film "October Sky" was based.

  • Mark Herndon: See the drummer for the country music group Alabama, with 42 No. 1 singles and over 60 million records sold worldwide. For children:

  • Mission to Marshall Scavenger Hunt: Children who take a fun and educational journey through Marshall tour stops can win a special NASA souvenir.

  • Rides: Future astronauts can jump and play in the 20-foot tall "Astronaut Moon Bounce" or take a miniature pedal plane for a "flight."

  • Clowns: Enjoy the antics of "Freedom Rose" and "Sparkles."


  • U.S. Postal Service stamp unveiling: See new stamp designs featuring the accomplishments of America's space program. Special commemorative envelopes and cancellations will be available exclusively at the Open House.


  • Bands: More than 20 groups will entertain Open House visitors with country, rock, jazz, gospel and more. Entertainers include "Max-Q" -- the astronaut rock and roll band; "Valor," a contemporary Christian group; and Teresa, five-time National Association of Campus Activities Country Artist of the Year.

  • Dance: See performances by line dance group "K and K Kickers," "Way out of Line Dancers" and "Strictly Dancing by Jeremy."

  • Broadway-style musical: Enjoy a sneak preview of performances from "Moon Dreams," a broadway-style musical set to open this summer, celebrating Huntsville's role in America's space program.

    Special attractions:

  • NASCAR: See the NASCAR No. 28 Texaco Havoline Ford Taurus driven by Ricky Rudd.

  • Rides: "Journey" to Mars aboard the Morphis™ MovieRide Theater simulator. Experience the thrill of "free falling" at 120 mph with the X-Treme™ Air simulator.
How to get there:

On May 20, visitors may enter Redstone Arsenal for the Marshall Open House through Gate 9 at the Rideout Road exit of Interstate 565; Gate 8, at Drake Avenue and Patton Road, or Gate 7 at Zierdt Road near the Huntsville International Airport.

For more information and directions to the Marshall Center, call toll-free 888-901-NASA-6272. More information is also available on the Web at:

NASA/Marshall Space Flight Center News Center

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