Seven space-themed museums

7 Spectacular Places — By on May 21, 2011 at 2:58 pm
Space Shuttle Challenger
Space Shuttle Challenger lifts off from Kennedy Space Center.

Are you fascinated by space travel? Are you saddened by the ending of the space shuttle program? Then it may be time for you to explore some of the intriguing space-related destinations that are scattered across the United States. These places are dedicated solely to the exploration of space and the history of the space program.

Kennedy Space Center (Cape Canaveral, Florida)

The Kennedy Space Center is best known as the launch site for shuttle trips and the historic Apollo moon missions. But it’s also a family friendly destination on the Florida coast east of Orlando. Visitors can explore the Apollo/Saturn V Center museum, take a bus tour past the rocket launch pads, or enjoy a space-themed IMAX film. If you want to learn more about the astronauts that have led missions you can visit the Astronaut Hall of Fame, which includes interactive flight simulators and space memorabilia. For those who’d prefer a more hands-on experience, older children and adults can participate in the Astronaut Training Experience, a half-day program that allows you to ride flight simulators and receive training from NASA astronauts.

Johnson Space Center (Houston, Texas)

The other NASA facility is the Johnson Space Center in Houston. This is the home of Mission Control and is the training base for astronauts. A tram tour will take you to Mission Control and the Space Vehicle Mock-up Facility. The Astronaut and Starship galleries have the world’s largest collection of space suits. The popular Blastoff Theater, meanwhile, is an IMAX film that gives viewers the sensation of blasting into space.

U.S. Space and Rocket Center (Huntsville, Alabama)

The U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama, claims the country’s largest collection of rockets, command modules and other artifacts of the American space program. It’s much more than a museum, though, as the center has numerous rides and simulators, including a Cockpit Trainer and G-Force Accelerator, as well as an IMAX Theater, Kids Cosmos Zone and Mars Climbing Wall.

Cosmosphere and Space Center (Hutchinson, Kansas)

Kansas seems an unlikely place for a space museum, but the Cosmosphere and Space Center has been around for several decades and has evolved into one of the most comprehensive such facilities in the world. It has spacecraft that were flown during the Apollo, Gemini and Mercury programs, as well as the largest collection of Russian space artifacts outside Moscow.

Museum of Space History (Alamagordo, new Mexico)

New Mexico is quickly becoming a player in the emerging business of private space flight and it played a historic role in the development of rocketry. So the state developed a Museum of Space History that includes an International Space Hall of Fame, an IMAX Theater and Planetarium, a Space Science Research Building and more.

Armstrong Air and Space Museum (Wapakoneta, Ohio)

Neil Armstrong is famous for being the first man to step foot on the moon during the historic Apollo 11 journey in 1969. Today, the Armstrong Air and Space Museum in his hometown of Wapakoneta, Ohio pays tribute to the astronaut and his accomplishments. The museum includes his Apollo 11 flightsuit, a Gemini spacecraft and a moon rock, along with interactive exhibits that allow visitors to practice landing a lunar module or space shuttle.

John and Annie Glenn Historic Site (New Concord, Ohio)

John Glenn was one of the first astronauts selected for the U.S. space program and in 1962 he became famous as the first American to orbit the Earth. The accomplishment cemented his image as a national hero and Glenn later became a long-serving U.S. Senator from Ohio. At the John and Annie Glenn Historic Site ,Glenn’s boyhood home has been turned into a museum that celebrates the life of this space pioneer.

Bonus destination: Museum of Cosmonautics (Moscow, Russia)

If you’re truly a space fan and don’t mind journeying to Russia, here is an eighth destination that will interest you. The Moscow Museum of Cosmonautics is connected to the Moscow subway system and shares space with the Explorers of the Cosmos monument and a Cosmonauts Alley hall of fame. The museum traces the history of the space program, both in Russia and around the world, and includes numerous interactive exhibits. It has a life-sized model of the space station Mir, a Soviet space capsule and thousands of space-related artifacts.


Photo credit: Public domain photo via Wikimedia Commons.
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