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For Immediate Release
WALK-THRU NASA SPACE STATION EXHIBIT IN FORT COLLINS MAY 30-31
A full-scale mockup of one of the International Space Station's science laboratories and the crew's living quarters will be on public display May 30-31 at the Fort Collins Discovery Center Science Museum, Fort Collins, Colo.
The mockup will allow the visitors to get a "feel" for how astronauts will work and live aboard the real thing in just a few years. They will also learn how research aboard the Space Station could lead to a better life on Earth.
The first element of the Space Station is scheduled to be launched in mid-to-late 1998.
"This exhibit lets you experience what it will be like to be an astronaut aboard Space Station," said John Dumoulin, exhibits manager at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. "The inside is modeled after the real Station being built now. It is as realistic as we can make it without removing the gravity."
The hands-on exhibit travels in two 48-foot trailers, connected in an "L" shape.
Inside the living quarters, visitors see where the international crew will sleep, exercise, relax and prepare their meals. They are able to step into the astronauts' shower and bathroom compartments, peer into storage drawers, or look out the porthole at the Earth. They can even "zip-up" into an astronaut sleeping bag, called a "sleep restraint unit."
The laboratory module in the companion trailer features mockups of actual experiments scheduled to be aboard the Space Station.
"The Space Station will be a permanent orbiting science institute capable of performing long-duration materials and life sciences research in a near gravity-free environment. It will accelerate break-throughs in science, technology, and engineering, which will have immediate, practical applications for us back here on Earth," Dumoulin said.
The basic workings of the human body will be studied aboard the Station to provide better methods for adapting to living in space, with applications to treatments for people who suffer from physical disabilities on Earth. In the exhibit's laboratory, visitors will see experiment racks on both sides of the wall, where life sciences research will take place. They can ask staffers about the study of cell and tissue growth in space, which will allow scientists to better understand the role gravity plays in how cells join together to create either healthy or unhealthy tissue.
Racks in the floor and ceiling depict facilities designed to help scientists study materials and fluids. Aboard the real Space Station, scientists will conduct experiments to find better ways to produce electronic materials such as semiconductors and superconductors, and crystals for lasers, computer chips and solar cells. Other experiments onboard the Station will examine the behavior of fluids in a microgravity environment.
The International Space Station is considered to be the largest cooperative scientific program in history, drawing on the resources and scientific expertise of 15 nations: The United States, Canada, Japan, 11 European countries and Russia.
NOTE TO EDITORS/NEWS DIRECTORS: NASA representatives traveling with the exhibit will be available for interviews on-site. NASA managers are available for interviews with television stations via satellite to talk about how Space Station research could one day improve the quality of life for people in your community. For additional information, to set up interviews or request photos or video, please call Kelly McFalls 205-544-3317 or the Public Affairs Office 205-544-0034.