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New Astronaut Training Experience Center opens Feb. 10 at Kennedy Space Center

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Astronaut Training Experience

Kennedy Space Center’s all-new Astronaut Training Experience Center will send visitors on simulated Mars missions beginning on Feb. 10.

Starting Feb. 10, 2018, guests at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex can join the race to the Red Planet in an all-new Astronaut Training Experience Center.

Previously a separate attraction located outside the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, the new Astronaut Training Experience (ATX) at KSC will use immersive simulation technology to transport participants to Mars, train them to live and work in the harshest environment, and teach them what it’s like to travel to the Red Planet, using real NASA science to address engineering challenges.

Astronaut Training Experience will offer the most high-tech, hands-on activities available at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex through two distinct programs: Astronaut Training Experience and Mars Base 1. Astronaut Training Experience will provide a five hour opportunity for visitors to train like an astronaut preparing for a mission to Mars. Mars Base 1 will provide participants with a chance to live on Mars for seven hours, as “rookie astronauts,” while performing base operations along with real science experiments and engineering tasks.

“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 said. “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 though while under extreme pressure, Astronaut Training Experience and Mars Base 1 is now available to everyone.”

Upon entering the Astronaut Training Experience Center, guests will be surrounded by ambiance that replicates actual astronaut training techniques and experiences. Participants are handed life-like badges and special-issue t-shirts to immerse them in the program, and their assignments, which are led by trained educators – their “Trainers” and “Lab Chiefs.” Through the programs and associated assignments, participants will work together by taking on specific roles to address challenges and solve problems.

In the Astronaut Training Experience program, groups of up to 24 will simultaneously work in multiple training areas that will replicate astronaut training of the future. Trainees will attempt the same physical tasks of the actual astronauts who will travel to Mars, by working within reproduced environmental scenarios, such as the Land-and-Drive-on-Mars full-motion simulator, Walk-on-Mars virtual reality, Launch Mission and Spacewalk Training.

Mars Base 1 provides the ultimate simulation of not just traveling to Mars, but living and working there for an entire day. Offered to individuals and groups, the mission begins with a “transport” to Mars. At three different stations within Mars Base 1, participants will be assigned real-life challenges that require analytic thinking, communication and collaboration. For example, in the Mars Engineering Lab, “rookie astronauts” will design and test a program that allows a team of robots to efficiently clear debris from a photovoltaic panel, restoring maximum solar power to the Base. They will also partner with scientists working on NASA’s Food Production by planting, harvesting, and analyzing vegetables and plants as they gather data in a series of controlled experiments taking place in the Mars Botany Lab.

“The new Astronaut Training Experience Center is the most interactive and technologically advanced experience at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex,” said Protze. “ATX and Mars Base 1 bring the future of space exploration to life. Guests looking to get as close to Mars as possible without actually becoming an astronaut will be able to have that opportunity at the new Astronaut Training Experience Center.”

Astronaut Training Experience Center activities are now located among the other attractions at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, and can be purchased separately or as an optional add-on to regular admission. Astronaut Training Experience is a five hour program offered at 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., and costs $175 plus tax per person. Mars Base 1 is a seven hour program starting at 9:30 a.m., and costs $150 plus tax per person. Admission to Astronaut Training Experience or Mars Base 1 does not include daily admission to the Visitor Complex, but guests do not need daily admission to participate. Both programs are restricted to guests ages 10 and older, and are offered only on select Saturdays, Sundays, and Wednesdays starting Feb. 10, 2018.

To see the Astronaut Training Experience Center schedule and reserve tickets through April 2018, visit kennedyspacecenter.com/info/tickets, and watch these videos for more out-of-this-world Kennedy Space Center attractions:

Visiting NASA's Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex for the first time
Cosmic Quest interactive game at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex
Inside Space Shuttle Atlantis exhibit at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex
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