Astrolab Rover at Space Center Houston’s Moon 2 Mars Exhibit
Photo: Houston Space Center
Such activity, however, could come as a surprise to much of the general public, as “our surveys have shown that people believe individuals have been to the moon since the end of the Apollo program, which we know is not true,” says William T. Harris, CEO of Space Center Houston.
“Our goal, really, is to raise awareness about these moon return plans,” he adds, “but also to make people aware of all the innovations that are happening in the Houston area and across the state of Texas.”
To that end, Space Center Houston, the public arm of Johnson Space Center – and one of the Houston area’s top tourist attractions – has created the Moon Festival March 2 to combine the latest space technology with a festival at the ‘Ancient. fun: live music, food and drink, an ice cream truck, the works. The center will be open for extended hours June 10-12; all of its regular attractions will also be available. Adult tickets are $39.95 per day, a $10 increase over regular admission.
“We’re not doing this because we’re looking to make money,” says Harris, who credits presenting sponsor Wellby (formerly JSC Credit Union) with helping to keep the festival’s price tag affordable. “Our goal is to create a really exciting learning experience that’s great fun for people of all ages and to introduce something that audiences don’t usually get to experience in this region.”
Among the range of space-centric attractions will be a special exhibition based on the Artemis program, a robot challenge course, game-like computer-assisted challenges and – for a limited number of guests – a pilotable rover prototype. Friday and Saturday nights will end with concerts respectively featuring roots-pop singer Katie Toupin (“Astronaut”) and another yet-to-be-named artist – health reasons have forced the country star Texan Aaron Watson to cancel last week – and “Trampoline” alt – pop trio Shaed opening for “Best Day of My Life” rockers American Authors.
On June 9, a business-to-business conference will serve as something of a prelude to the festival, highlighting what Harris calls the “booming” space-related sector of the Houston-area economy. Companies like Ad Astra, which explores the energy potential of electric plasma; and Intuitive Machines, makers of a robotic lander to search for ice under the moon’s south pole, are doing amazing things but not getting much attention, he thinks.
When: June 9-12; June 9 is the business-to-business conference
Where: Houston Space Center, 1601 E. NASA Parkway, Clear Lake
Details: $39.95 per day; 281-244-2100; spacecenter.org
“That’s our goal for this festival, hopefully people will be excited, excited, to see the possibilities,” Harris said.
One of the festival’s most popular attractions could easily be Blue Origin’s New Shepard Astronaut Training Module, which brings up an interesting point about the relationship between NASA and the private companies that help push the boundaries of exploration. spatial. The billionaire exploits of Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos and SpaceX mastermind Elon Musk may have created the image of private space travel as a playground for the wealthy, but the reality is more complicated.
“What’s so shocking is that if you visit our Saturn V rocket here at Space Center Houston, it’s taller than the Statue of Liberty, and everything was thrown away except for the capsule,” says Harris. “Everything was single use.” However, the development of craft like the New Shepard and SpaceX’s Dragon “dramatically reduced the cost of reusable technology hardware,” Harris adds.
Space travel has captured the imagination of people around the world for generations and is now at the dawn of a new era. For Harris, the Moon March 2 festival is a perfect way to get people excited about all that’s happening in the burgeoning field — and have them have a good time while they’re at it.
“I always tell my team that it’s no coincidence that Hollywood makes films related to space exploration every year,” he says. “They don’t do it because it’s a subject they find interesting; they do it because the public is interested. Audiences want to fantasize about the possibilities of going to space… so I think the big appeal here is that we can help bring their space aspirations and fantasies to life.
Chris Gray is a Galveston-based writer.