7 Must-See Space Centers Around The World
Wondering what to do during your next vacation? Apart from exploring a new destination on Earth, why not go further and see what you can learn about the rest of the universe? There are hundreds of space research centers all over the world, many of which provide tours or host visitor centers, museums, and unique experiences that are open to the public.
Are you ready to lift off? Let the journey begin!
1. Space Center, Leicester, United Kingdom
The National Space Centre is the UK’s largest attraction dedicated to space exploration and space science. The centre features six interactive galleries, the UK’s largest planetarium, a unique 3D Simulator Experience and the iconic 42m high Rocket Tower, home to Blue Streak and Thor Able rockets, as well as the Gagarin Experience, Apollo Lunar Lander and real Moon Rock.
2. Cite Espace, Toulouse, France
In 2017, Cite Espace celebrated their 20th anniversary. This space museum on the outskirts of Toulouse brings aeronautical history to life with hands-on exhibits. You can step into a moon-running simulator, test your tolerance for space travel in a rotating pod and discover more about the universe in the planetarium and observatory. For the real tech-geeks, there are the full-scale replicas of the Mars Rover and a 55 meter / 180 feet high Ariane 5 space rocket.
3. Space Expo, Noordwijk, The Netherlands
Space Expo is Europe’s first permanent space exhibition and the visitors’ centre for ESA in the Netherlands. Enjoy a ride on the ‘Space Train’ and take a tour of ESTEC, ESA’s technical centre. At Space Expo, you can see what it was like for the first men on the Moon and even experience the simulated launch of an Ariane rocket ‘live’! There are several satellite test models of European space missions and when you leave, you know everything about how astronauts live and work in space.
4. Airland Space, Washington, DC, USA
The National Air and Space Museum is best known for their collection of rare and historically significant aircraft and spacecraft objects. With over 60.000 artifacts and more than 20.000 cubic feet of archival materials, you can find pretty much anything from manuscripts, trophies and equipment to spacesuits, engines and even complete rockets. A wide variety of these artifacts are permanently on display at the museum in Washington, DC and the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, VA.
In addition to their exhibition galleries, you may want to visit the Albert Einstein Planetarium, Lockheed Martin IMAX® Theater and the Public Observatory. You can also participate in daily tours and educational activities for both children and adults.
5. Space Port, Wallasey, United Kingdom
At Spaceport, you can take an inspirational journey through space, as you walk through several themed galleries that feature a large variety of interactive hands-on exhibits. You can see space as you’ve never seen it before at their 360° dome theatre, go on a real Space Ride, explore the wonders of the tropical night sky with the help of the world’s largest robotic telescope -or visit ‘Sci-Fi Icons’, a private collection of Stars Wars memorabilia from one of the UK’s biggest collectors.
6. Euro Space, Transinne, Belgium
Space adventurers, prepare for lift-off. The Euro Space Center is located in the heart of the Ardennes and here, you can train like a real astronaut and learn all about the conquests of space. You can visit for the day and explore the multimedia exhibition, 5D cinema, take a moon or mars walk and visit the planetarium, or you can sign up for a one or two-day family weekend, where you simulate a real space mission on board a shuttle!
7. Kennedy Space Center, Titusville, FL, USA
Of course there couldn’t be a list of space centers without mentioning the Kennedy Space Center, home of NASA. This is the place where real rockets launch and inspiration begins. The complex is organized into Mission Zones where attractions and tours are grouped by chronological era. From the dawn of space exploration to current and ongoing missions, you can get an up-close, hands-on feel for the story of humans in space.
Which of these space centers have you visited or are you planning to explore in the future?