The journey to Mars is a long one, but it’s already well underway. Today, NASA’s Artemis program is bringing America and the world closer to the next steps on the Moon and the first steps on the Red Planet in a journey that builds on the decades of space accomplishments that have come before it.
Dare to Explore: Milestones to Mars is a new exhibit at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville that brings the journey to life in a way you’ve never experienced before – with a collection of rarely seen treasures from the museum’s archives as well as some new additions that share the story of where we’ve been and where we’re going.
Here are just five things you may not know about the path to Mars that are among the many you’ll learn in the “Dare to Explore” exhibit:
Space Food: It’ll Grow on You
You’re the sort of person who likes their meals freeze-dried, dehydrated and/or thermostablized, but after months of traditional space food, pretty much anyone would enjoy something fresh. On the International Space Station, fresh food can be delivered occasionally via arriving cargo vessels. On a round trip to Mars, however, no delivery service is going to catch up with you. Plant growth experiments are already underway in space today; “Dare to Explore” shows you what the future of in-space farm-fresh could look like.
Good Shoes Really Stick Around
Floating around may be one of the cooler fringe benefits to working in outer space, but sometimes there’s something to be said for staying in one place. To stay stationary while performing a task, astronauts on the Skylab space station were given a unique bit of space fashion – brown high-top sneakers with large triangular pegs attached to the bottom that could lock into the station’s grid floor. Practical AND stylish.
Sometimes It’s Better to Make It Than Take It
The greatest challenge of space exploration is that to have anything in space, you have to first get it off Earth. Want to put a rover on Mars? You need a rocket to get it there. Want to send people to the moon? You need an even bigger rocket. Want a base on Mars? Lots of rockets. All those rockets get complicated and pricey. But what if there were a way around that? With USSRC partner Branch Technology, “Dare to Explore” showcases a future where equipment isn’t rocketed to other worlds, it’s made there. Automation and additive manufacturing (large-scale 3D printing) are already changing the world on Earth; someday they could open new opportunities on other worlds.
How Do You Go to the Bathroom in Space?
It’s a question astronauts get asked as often as any other. The short answer is “Very carefully.” The long answer, for most of the last fifty years, involves one in a series of specially designed space toilets. And odds are, you’ve never been as up close to a space toilet as you can get in the “Dare to Explore” exhibit.
Making the Next Giant Leap
Visit the U.S. Space & Rocket Center’s Saturn V Hall and you’ll find a display of an Apollo Lunar Module, not unlike the one that carried Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin to become the first men on the moon more than 50 years ago. “Dare to Explore” shows you a modern equivalent – one of three lunar lander designs chosen by NASA to compete for the job of carrying a new generation of men and woman to the lunar surface. This Human Landing System concept was created by a team consisting of Blue Origin, Northrop Grumman, Draper and Lockheed Martin, which sponsored “Dare to Explore.” This giant piece of hardware is, literally, a can’t-miss item in an incredible exhibit.
“Dare to Explore” is a limited-time display, so plan your visit now to see this amazing collection of past and future space treasures.