It still seems incredible that a mere 66 years after the Wright brothers’ first powered flight in December 1903, man was walking on the Moon. Space exploration has continued at break-neck speed since the famous lunar mission in July 1969 – think space stations, orbiters to far-off Mars, probes landing on comets etcetera – and that journey is documented in a fascinating edutainment exhibition currently on show at the Bangkok Convention Center, Ladprao.
Officially opened last month in the presence of former NASA astronaut Brigadier-General Charlie Duke, the NASA – A Human Adventure exhibition offers Buzz Aldrin wannabes young and old the chance to delve into the history of what is arguably mankind’s greatest technological achievement – the ability to beat gravity and the parameters of our atmosphere so that we can explore the great vacuum of space. Among the key items on display is the control panel of the Space Shuttle Atlantis, while budding space cadets can find out what it feels like to be a pilot onboard a spacecraft and experience multiple G Forces. They can also learn how astronauts have their meals, see the evolution of astronaut space suits over the decades and even have their picture taken wearing one of the suits.
Produced by John Nurminen Events in cooperation with NASA, the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center, and the U.S. Space and Rocket Center, the edutainment exhibition features around 400 space exploration-related objects, many of which were used in real space operations. Here you can see pieces ranging from the signed plastic briefcase belonging to Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space, to various rocket parts and specially-packed food items from the Apollo missions.
Above all, the exhibition is testament to the incredible vision and hard work of the men and women who made the dream of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely back to Earth a reality. Described in a display titled ‘Dreamers’, their work appears primarily in the Space Technology zone, the first of the four zones into which the exhibition is organized. It showcases space rockets, space suits, satellites, space cars, space robots, space food, space bathrooms, space communication devices, space shuttles and operating engines, space electronic devices, space stations and ground stations.
This where visitors can explore all NASA’s manned space craft; from Mercury and Gemini to Apollo and the Space Shuttle. In addition to US innovations, Russian space technology is also on display with replicas of the famous Sputnik satellite and lunar survey rover Lunokhod. Other highlights include a replica of Neil Armstrong’s space suit; two Titan 1 rocket engines, a scale model of the most powerful rocket ever successfully flown, the mighty Saturn V Moon rocket; an Apollo Lunar Module cockpit and ascent engine; and an Apollo Command Module replica with a real simulator-trainer interior.
In another display called Go Fever, science and technology are set in a social context via a historical comparison of the two space giants, the United States and Soviet Union, and their competition to show off their progress in the field of space exploration. And in keeping with the educational aspect of the exhibition, there are also displays highlighting the endurance required of astronauts in space, showing how they live their lives on a daily basis, what they wear, what they eat, and much more. Thailand’s involvement in space gets a look-in too, with a Thai Innovation display detailing advanced satellite technology developed by the likes of Thaicom, Geo-Informatics and the Space Technology Development Agency.
Zone 2 features rides designed to give visitors some idea of what it feels like to travel into space. The aforementioned G Force Simulator produces up to 1G of force, a fraction of the gravitational stresses that astronauts routinely endured during Space Shuttle launches and landings back on Earth. Nevertheless it offers a uniquely thrilling experience for mere Earth-bound mortals. A further zone 2 attraction is the Photo Activity Club where visitors can don a space suit and have their picture taken while they experience the weightlessness of space.
Here too is The Globe, a circular screen that allows 360-degree views of the Solar System. It contains information about our own planet, our Sun and our cosmic neighbours: Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and the dwarf planet Pluto. The information display is interactive – similar to a gaming experience.
The other two zones at the exhibition are given over to souvenirs and a Space Café respectively. At the Space Café visitors can get their fill of ‘special’ space cuisine. A word of caution on the souvenir side – if you are planning on visiting this cosmic showcase with a tribe of little Buzz Lightyears – on Children’s Day for example – a tool round the souvenir visit to this zone can be an expensive proposition.
The NASA – A HUMAN ADVENTURE exhibition is on at the Bangkok Convention Center, 5th floor, Central Plaza Ladprao, until 1 February 2015. Tickets priced at B500 per person, available at all ThaiTicketMajor counters. Visit www.bectero.com or call 0 2262 3838 for more information.
Bangkok Convention Centre
Central Plaza Ladprao | 1695 Phaholyothin Rd | 02-541-1234