4 September 2004

Day One - Huntsville, Alabama

Next stop was Huntsville, Alabama - the home of the U.S. Space and Rocket Center. This is an older launch center which is now a museum containing exhibits, older rockets, a space shuttle, Imax theater and more. We became members for $80 (saving $20 if we had just paid the entrance fees) and only had time to see the museum and Imax and gift shop. Luckily the membership means we get free entry at any time for the next 12 months and reciprocal deals at lots of other science museums (including Questacon in Canberra!)
The museum included many hands on activities, including a virtual reality visit to the space station where Ariel and David were strapped into a pseudo space ship. At the front of the ship they saw a video with the “ship” being buffeted in synchronised moments to match the film.
The most odd display was the interior of a section of a space rocket, but the insides were at an angle to the floor. Although we stood on the flat level base, everything else was at an angle of about 20 - 30 degrees. We felt that we should have been falling over!

Eric is standing up straight - everything else is at an angle.
(Note James holding on and Peter falling sideways)

The boys got to try “mountain climbing on Mars” which was rock climbing like they did at the Blairsville Bank Customer appreciation day.

Also on display were spacesuits and all the bits of which they are made. Seeing these inspired us to listen again to the audio book of “Have Spacesuit Will Travel” by Robert A. Heinlein, a tale of a lad that won a space suit and whilst testing it out is kidnapped by aliens. It is a very good book.
The Imax was pretty impressive. Patrons all lay down in specially designed seats and the movie plays on the dome like screen. It is so big that you peripheral vision is part of the film, too. The movie we saw was space station, detailing the deployment and construction of the International Space Station.

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