Lockheed Martin, Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex launch new Astronaut Training Experience
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — Lockheed Martin and the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex “launched” the new Astronaut Training Experience (ATX) on Thursday, Aug. 16, 2018. The event was conducted with pomp, leading members of the space community and those who stand to benefit from this new attraction. The event was held in honor of Lockheed Martin becoming the attraction’s title sponsor.
With the push of a (very) large red button the attraction was officially opened to guests. Some of those included students from Stone Middle School and Southwest Middle School.
A number of private and public officials were on hand for today’s events along with Callahan. These included Therrin Protze, chief operating officer, Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, (L-R) , Robert Cabana, the director of NASA’s Kennedy Space Center and Lisa Callahan the vice president and general manager, Commercial Civil Space at Lockheed Martin Space.
“We are so proud of the new ATX and Mars Base 1 as it offers our visitors the rare opportunity to really engage with the idea of becoming an astronaut,” said Therrin Protze, COO of Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. “This additional offering allows participants go through the training and contend with real, on-the-job challenges that astronauts face.”
Igniting the spark of interest in today’s youth can be a difficult task. The ATX is an effort to breach the disinterest in education that is a hallmark of students – by combining the tasks they would need to perform if they were to become astronauts with an engaging experience. On top of that, they would be walked through their encounter by trained educators.
“This is an exciting time in human spaceflight. We’re building the Orion spacecraft here at the Kennedy Space Center, and it’s my hope that one of the students learning in the Astronaut Training Experience will one day be one of the astronauts that flies Orion to Mars,” Lisa Callahan, vice president and general manager for Commercial Civil Space at Lockheed Martin said.
Those undertaking the ATX would get hands on experience while learning. Far from dusty schematics and mathematics, ATX incorporates virtual reality into the mix. All of the layers that those in attendance encounter will allow them to train like actual astronauts, to gain a better understanding of what is needed for those returning to the Moon or even missions to Mars.
To help further this knowledge base, Lockheed Martin has donated a full-scale mock up that provides participants with an idea of the scale of the working spaces they might encounter while on orbit. Lockheed Martin has been tapped to produce a habitat that could one day orbit the Moon as what has come to be called NASA’s “Gateway.”
Potential missions to the Red Planet are all part of the plan. In fact, ATX is actually two missions in one. One element would be the astronaut training itself – while the second would be “Mars Base 1.” Much like the regular duties on the International Space Station, these future “astronauts” would learn about the science being conducted on the Red Planet as well as the engineering required. In so doing they would get a taste of what it truly means to be a space flyer.
“They also have the chance to perform real NASA science experiments and contribute to data that will be used in the field. We are thrilled to be supported by title sponsor Lockheed Martin on ATX and Mars Base 1, as their rich history of space exploration and technological innovation aligns perfectly with our mission,” Protze said.
The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is working to encourage interest in students to pursue careers in space. Throughout 2018, fifth graders who visit with a full-admission-paying-adult – will receive free one-day admission (for the fall). The only stipulation is that only three students are allowed to come out per paying adult. Also, if you’re a member of the military or a Florida resident – the offer isn’t valid.
Jason Rhian spent several years honing his skills with internships at NASA, the National Space Society and other organizations. He has provided content for outlets such as: Aviation Week & Space Technology, Space.com, The Mars Society and Universe Today.