Bigger is better for Space Foundation

       Expanded and renamed, the Space Foundation Discovery Center is open to the public this summer, with a different theme each of the coming 10 weeks and special events on Saturdays.

Iain Probert of the Space Foundation off Garden of the Gods Road welcomes people to an expanded area for artifacts and learning activities that's been named the Discovery Center. For the summer, the facility will be open Tuesday through Saturday, with a different theme each week and special Saturday activities.
Westside Pioneer photo

       The first week is titled “Oceans of the Universe,” examining the similarities between space and deep sea exploration. Interactive opportunities Saturday, June 8 will include maneuvering remotely operated underwater vehicles, dissecting a squid, comparing SCUBA equipment with astronaut suits and digging for fossils and shells.
       “The exhibits and activities we're offering this summer will interest anyone who enjoys science and space exploration,” said Iain Probert, the foundation's vice president of education and discovery. “Parents can share the excitement of discovery with their children, while seniors can relive the thrill of the early U.S. space missions.”
       The center is on the ground floor of the Space Foundation, a nonprofit advocate for the space industry, located off Garden of the Gods Road at 4425 Arrowswest Drive.
       The facility is open Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Daily admission is $9 for adults, $7 for ages 65 and over and college students with I.D. and $3 for ages 4 to 17. Admission is free to military with I.D., to ages 3 and under and to holders of the Colorado Springs Together Card. Dollar-off coupons are available on the website: The phone is 576-8000.
       Last fall, the foundation opened a 9,000-square-foot space to the public as its “visitors center,” featuring the Northrop Grumman Science Center, with its high-tech Science on a Sphere (a permanent functionality); and the El Pomar Space Gallery, with a “Launch to the Moon” display of artifacts related to the U.S./Soviet “race to the Moon.”
       In the months since, the foundation has renovated to create about 8,000 square feet of unwalled space just east of the Science Center and the gallery. This made room for the new Saturday activities, additional exhibits (some on loan, some from the foundation's collection) and a small reading/play area for younger children.
       Among the added exhibits are:
  • The Scott Carpenter Station (an underwater research and demonstration vehicle that's named after the astronaut and tied to space travel because of environmental similarities between water and space).
  • A Mars Viking lander (part of a mid-1970s program that sent two landers to Mars).
  • A former Kennedy Space Center operations management room console (used on the Apollo missions).
  • A J2 rocket engine (the type used on two NASA Saturn launches).
  • A one-tenth size replica of the Aurora TLV flight test vehicle.
  • A quarter-size replica of the Orion multi-purpose crew vehicle that is designed to take astronauts into deep space.
  • A miniature of the space shuttle.
           The name changed from “Visitors Center” to “Discovery Center” at the direction of Space Foundation CEO Elliot Pulham. “Elliott chose the name, Discovery Center, to convey the educational aspect of the exhibits,” said Carol Hively, the foundation's director of public relations.
           Future plans include an interactive teaching auditorium, educational units linked closely to school class requirements and a “Mars Yard/Robotics Lab” that will be set up with learning challenges for different ages and for virtual access.
           “If you're interested in space, this center is unlike anything in the area,” Probert commented.
           Other upcoming weekly themes are:
  • “Mars, Rovers and Robots” June 11-15.
  • “Astronauts!” June 18-22.
  • “Blue Planet - Green Living,” June 25-29.
  • “Red, White and Blue,” July 2-6.
  • “Weather Wonders,” July 9-13.
  • “One Giant Leap,” July 16-20.
  • “Women in Spaceflight,” July 23-27.
  • “Colorado Days,” July 30-Aug. 3.
  • “A Taste of Technology,” Aug. 6-10.
           Started in 1983, the Space Foundation had been in a much smaller building on 14th Street until the move to Arrowswest in 2011.

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