Space travel – past, present and future – explored at OMSI

See why this new exhibit, ‘Space: A Journey to Our Future’, is attracting both young and old. Take a look at our exclusive photos – it’s pretty neat …

Lynda Gordon, and her daughters Lucy and Paige, marvel at the real moon rocks on display at the exhibit in this realistic diorama – featuring an “earthrise” over the lunar surface.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Visitors to the new featured exhibit at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) say it’s out of this world.

When “Space: A Journey to Our Future opened on January 30, space exploration enthusiasts got the first opportunity to touch a piece of the planet Mars, see a real Moon rock up close, take a spin on a space bike, and tour a full-scale future lunar habitat.

“This is one of the largest touring exhibitions ever produced on space exploration,” said OMSI spokesman Lee Dawson. “It examines the history of our space program, shows off current projects in space exploration such as satellites, space telescopes, and living in space.

“It also provides a glimpse of future human space travel through highly advanced interactive displays.”

OMSI Executive Director, Nancy Stueber, welcomes guests to the museum’s new featured exhibit on its opening night.

Adan Gillespie and Rick Edgecombe take a spin on a space station exercise bike – complete with artificial gravity.

Of interest to both kids and adults
OMSI’s feature-hall lead educator, Kristi Falkowski, agreed with Dawson that the most popular part of the exhibit is the “space bike ride”.

“It simulates about two G’s by spinning,” Falkowski said. “And it demonstrates how astronauts can meet their need to exercise in space, to keep up their bone and muscle mass in a weightless environment.”

Dawson said grownups will most likely be attracted to the space exploration relics. “There are a wide range of artifacts on display from the past and present space program, including space suits, a lunar rover tire, a camera from the Apollo program, early fuel cells, and space shuttle tiles.”

Hugh and Alexander Mackworth inspect the full-size replica of the Mars Rover.

Other exhibits and activities include:

  • Today’s Space Program – This interactive area examines the International Space Station, deep space probes, next-generation telescopes, living in space and space tourism, and NASA studies in “robonauts”.
  • Constellation Program – Visitors will get an up-close look at “Orion”, the new spacecraft that will take human explorers back to the Moon, and the Aries rocket which will propel the new spacecraft.
  • Lunar Base Camp – Would-be explorers can literally step into the future and interact aboard a re-created future base camp on the lunar surface.
  • Create a Mission to Mars – Through hands-on interactive displays and modules, visitors can design their own trip to Mars, from the design of the spacecraft to living quarters to supplies needed, and will ultimately find out how successful their trip would likely be.
  • 360-degree “Future Theatre” – In an immersive media experience, visitors will look far into the future of exploration and deep into space, pondering mysteries to be revealed and questions to be answered.

Elizabeth Stafford holds Ethan, as they explore a Lunar Habitat’s kitchen area.

The exhibit runs through May 31, reminded Dawson. “This is a great opportunity for people to learn a little bit about where our space program came from, what took place, and get an idea about how we’ll be exploring space in the future.”

The exhibit is offered without additional charge – after standard OMSI admission or membership.

The exhibit comes to OMSI through the support of local presenting sponsor Lufthansa Airlines, and local supporting sponsors Chevron and Mentor Graphics; it was produced by Evergreen Exhibitions, and was made possible by national partner General Motors.

OMSI is located at 1945 SE Water Avenue. For general information, call (503) 797-4000 or visit their website: CLICK HERE.

> Photo from our front page: Ready for takeoff in OMSI’s Gemini Space Capsule is Valen Williams, visiting from the Lents Neighborhood.

© 2010 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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