Visit Neighborhood Earth at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center

May 3, 2017 Rebecca Hitt



Visit Neighborhood Earth at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center

Dearest fellow explorers and adventurers,

Congratulations! You are standing in one of most amazing cites in the entire universe. In honor of this most glorious occasion, the U.S. Space & Rocket Center opened a brand new exhibit dedicated to exploration on the galactic scale of our solar system. And y’all, this isn’t just any ol’ exhibit opening— oh, no, this is the WORLD premiere. As in, no one else on the entire planet has ever had the chance to get a glimpse of this beauty. Basically, you are traversing into the wild and beautiful yonder, full of space artifacts, planets, and rockets. Sigh… paradise, am I right?

In all seriousness, this exhibit is quite remarkable. Neighborhood Earth was created in conjunction with Flying Fish Exhibits, Chronica Creative, and the U.S. Space & Rocket Center. It gives the visitor the opportunity to zoom through the solar system along with the spacecraft and robotics that explore our celestial neighborhood, and further our knowledge of the worlds around us. To get your hands on and touch the materials those the spacecraft are built from. To take look back on the history of space exploration but to also look ahead to the exhilarating future journeys in the making. To see how dashing you would look in the spacesuits of the future. (Spoiler alert: It’s pretty darn dashing.) To get to better acquainted with our planetary neighbors. To look up to the stars and dream.

So go see the sights! May all your voyages be as grand, breathtaking, and ground-shaking as a rocket launch.


The Artifacts!


This is historic.


To fully appreciate and understand where you are going, you have to understand where you have been. To better understand the progression and evolution of the technology that has enabled our journeys off the earth, check out the artifacts on display from the glorious archives and collections of the Space & Rocket Center such as the prototype and training gloves from the Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, and Shuttle space suits. Zoom forward to the display of the NASA Z-2 space suit, a prototype currently in development.


You can build a Mars colony! And build and launch a rocket! 


Do you even lift? How about on Jupiter?


Get your hands in there and build a Mars colony of your own design. Or assemble and test your rocket design. Also, don’t forget to feel super cool because the parts of the rocket and Mars colony are all 3-D printed. Of course, don’t forget to check how your strength measures up on other planets, help the Orion capsule with re-entry, and TOUCH ALL THE SPACE MATERIALS!

The information!


Such knowledge.


So. Much. Information. Projections on the wall let you learn more about Curiosity, one of the rovers that is currently exploring Mars. Touch the wall to check out Curiosity’s instruments and travels across the Martian terrain. Another wall projection highlights the International Space Station with a live feed from outside the station, as well as a map that shows the location of ISS in real time. Still need more knowledge? The educational kiosks will answer any question you have EVER had about the planets in the solar system. (probably.) There is one kiosk for each of the planets and also one for Pluto because well… who doesn’t love Pluto? Click on everything on the touchscreen. Zoom in on the hologram at the top. Identify the featured instruments of Voyager, Cassini, and other. Get all the knowledge. Become the planetary exploration expert you have always wanted to be.


The photo ops!


My most bestest dance move.


Take a photo with your face inside cut-out of the Z-2 suit, a protoype suit for future space exploration. Or, if you need to perfect your moonwalk for your first lunar EVA or make sure your Mercurian mambo, (which is totally a thing…) is on point, stop at the planetary vacation imaging station that utilizes Xbox Kinect technology to help you visualize yourself on your dream stellar vacation.

The cinematic experience!




So for this, you are right there. Standing on the surface of other planets. Watching the sunset while you are standing in Gale Crater on Mars. Surrounded by a lightning storm on Venus. The epic climax and culmination of Neighborhood Earth is the immersive theatric experience that places you right alongside Cassini, New Horizons, and the other plucky spacecraft on a journey to visit the other planets in our solar system.  When I say immersive, it truly is—there are screens literally above, below, and all around you. In the very middle sits a half globe 8.5 feet tall with images of the different planets projected on it. Since not all of the screens show the same image, walk around while you are in there or else you could potentially miss something.



The education!

For the educators and teachers looking for a great out-of-the-classroom experience, Neighborhood Earth is aligned to Next Generation Science Standards, as well as Common Core Math and Alabama College and Career Ready 2015 Science standards.


Neighborhood Earth will be at the Space & Rocket Center until June 18, 2017.




Which iHeartHsv blogger wrote this?

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Although not born nor raised in Huntsville, being a generally smart lady, Rebecca high-tailed it here as quickly as she could. She graduated from Auburn University with a bachelor’s in history and with a giant crush on the “stuff” of history, whether in a museum or a historic site. Most of her waking hours involve working in museum education for the U.S. Space and Rocket Center. Like any good child of the South, she loves storytelling, which she considers an art form. Rebecca enjoys sharing Huntsville’s tales to anyone who will listen whether during Huntsville Ghost Walks, conducting tours of the Huntsville Depot, leading Breakfast Trolley tours or bringing history to life during the Cemetery Stroll. She is also a member of the Huntsville-Madison County Historical Society and the Huntsville Historic Marker Committee.

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