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New Astronaut Training Experience opens at Florida's Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

Guests Can Train Like an Astronaut Preparing for a Trip to Mars
The race to Mars has already begun, and with the opening of the new Astronaut Training Experience® (ATX) at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex this February, guests will be the first to “touch down” on the Red Planet.  The all-new Astronaut Training Experience uses immersive simulation technology to train participants to live and work in the harshest environment of Mars, and teach them what it’s like to travel on the Red Planet, using real NASA science to address engineering challenges.  

Astronaut Training Experience boasts the most high-tech, hands-on activities available at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex through two distinct programmes:  Astronaut Training Experience, for which Training Segments are available to guests from February, and Mars Base 1, which was completed in early February and is now open for guests. Astronaut Training Experience provides an opportunity for visitors to train like an astronaut preparing for a mission to Mars. Mars Base 1 provides 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. A sleek design, realistic signage and sophisticated technology provide a sense of authenticity. Excitement builds as participants are handed life-like badges and special-issue t-shirts to immerse them in the programme, and their assignments, which are led by expertly trained educators – their “Trainers” and “Lab Chiefs.”

Through the programmes and associated assignments, participants work together by taking on specific roles to address challenges and solve problems: In the Astronaut Training Experience programme, groups of up to 24 can simultaneously work in multiple training areas that replicate astronaut training of the future. Trainees  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 living and working on Mars for an entire day. Offered to individuals and groups, participants are assigned real-life challenges at three different stations that require analytic thinking, communication and collaboration. For example, in the Mars Engineering Lab, “rookie astronauts” design and test a programme that allows a team of robots to efficiently clear debris from a photovoltaic panel, restoring maximum solar power to the Base. They can 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.

Now located among the other attractions at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex and offered as an add-on to regular admission or purchased separately, Astronaut Training Experience activities are designed with a focus on problem solving, communication and collaboration, making them ideal for team building in an interesting and inspirational environment. Programmes range from 30- and 45-minute experiences easily added to a Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex day, to a few hours or two, three- and five-day camp programmes, providing the opportunity to participate based on interest level and specific educational needs. 

“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.”   

Prices range from $30 per person for the 30-min Spacewalk Training experience and $40 per person for the 45-min Mars Exploration Simulator Training to $150 per person for the seven-hour Mars Base 1 programme and $175 per person for the five-hour Astronaut Training experience.  The three and five-day training camps are offered for groups and are quoted on request.

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