future of space travel
‘Starship 2040’ exhibit launches campaign to share NASA’s futuristic
Should NASA’s Starship 2040
touch down in coming months at a university campus or community center
near you, don’t expect a thunderous descent from the heavens. This
high-tech “spacecraft” hitches a ride inside an Earthbound tractor and
trailer rig, after all.
But space transportation
officials from NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala.,
are confident the Starship 2040 experience will send the imaginations
of tens of thousands of visitors a year thundering straight into orbit.
Developed at the Marshall
Center and housed in a 48-foot (14.6-meter) trailer, the traveling exhibit
is designed to share NASA’s vision of what commercial spaceflight might
be like 40 years from now. Visitors board the “ship” and move through
a fully realized mock-up of the control, passenger and engineering compartments,
where they’ll gain insight into technologies that eventually will make
such an out-of-this-world experience as routine as air travel.
“The Starship 2040 exhibit
will inform and excite visitors of all ages about possible future technologies
and commercial opportunities in space,” says Dr. Row Rogacki, director
of Space Transportation at the Marshall Center. “More importantly,
Starship 2040 illustrates real-world technology challenges now being
explored by NASA and our partners in industry, academia and government.”
All the innovations suggested
aboard the exhibit automated vehicle health monitoring systems,
high-energy propulsion drive, navigational aids and emergency and safety
systems are based on concepts and technologies now being studied
at NASA Centers and partner institutions around the nation.
“This isn’t just science
fiction,” Rogacki says. “We intend to make a future much like the one
demonstrated by Starship 2040 a reality.”
Audio effects engine
noises, computer and crew voices filter down from hidden speakers
inside the exhibit, adding to the realistic ambience of the experience.
Starship 2040 recently visited
Chicago for the annual National Manufacturing Week trade show and conducted
a three-city tour through Middle Tennessee. In coming weeks, it travels
to Washington D.C., as part of NASA’s annual Turning Goals into Reality
conference (May 16-18) and will make public stops at visitor centers
at NASA’s Goddard Space Center in Greenbelt, Md., (May 19-21) and NASA’s
Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va., (May 23-25). Future state
tours are in the works.
NASA and public officials
are particularly excited by the interest and enthusiasm being shown
by school-age children, many of whom visit the exhibit as part of class
"NASA's Starship 2040
exhibit is a wonderful educational tool for our children, and instills
in them the importance of a math and science education highly sought
after by today’s high-tech job market," says U.S. Rep. Bart Gordon
of Tennessee’s 6th District. Gordon is the ranking member of the House
Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics, which has oversight and legislative
jurisdiction over the space agency.
"Space exploration presents
a unique fascination to millions,” agrees U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt
of Alabama’s 4th District, vice-chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee
on Veterans Administration/Housing & Urban Development.
“Allowing communities an
in-depth look at what we're doing builds support in our worthwhile efforts,”
Aderholt adds. “Starship 2040 provides a unique opportunity to show
the nation what we are doing, and can still dream to do."
For more information about
the Starship 2040 exhibit and a complete listing of upcoming tour dates,
More about NASA Space
NASA is the nation’s premier
agency for development of Space Transportation systems, including future-generation
reusable launch vehicles. Such systems the keys to a real
Starship 2040 require revolutionary advances in critical aerospace
technologies, from thermal, magnetic, chemical and propellantless propulsion
systems to new energy sources such as space solar power or antimatter
propulsion. These and other advances are now being studied, developed
and tested at NASA field centers and partner institutions all over the
NASA and its partners also
seek innovative materials and processes technologies, investigating
ways to develop safer, stronger and more durable engines, vehicles,
structures and components to handle the immense power of these futuristic
The Marshall Center leads
all these efforts, aimed at enabling dramatic improvements in the safety,
cost and reliability of future space transportation systems.
For more information about
NASA Space Transportation Systems, visit: