Champion racecar driver James Hinchcliffe will get a behind-the-scenes look at the science command post for the International Space Station when the IndyCar Series racer visits the Payload Operations Integration Center at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, on April 24.

Media are invited to meet and interview Hinchcliffe at the Marshall Center at 3:30 p.m. CDT.

Marshall’s Payload Operations Integration Center essentially serves as the “pit crew” for astronauts on the space station and scientists on the ground. Personnel help researchers around the world perform cutting-edge science in space by providing communications between investigators and the astronauts in orbit. In 15 years, the expert payload operations team has provided around-the-clock support for more than 1,500 science investigations and student experiments from 82 countries.

The driver is in the Huntsville area to race the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama in Leeds on April 24-26. While at Marshall, he will preview activities that NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston has planned for the Indianapolis 500 next month and will explore the similarities between high-performing racecars and spacecraft.

NASA and high-performance motor sports have a history of collaboration, most recently on the confined seating systems in a space capsule, which are similar to those in a racecar. Agency engineers asked for data from IndyCar crashes to help develop an effective restraint system to protect crew members of the new Orion crew module as they experience acceleration changes. Like IndyCars, Orion, the space station and the Space Launch System — NASA’s new heavy-lift rocket — are designed to operate under extreme conditions and use state-of-the-art materials such as advanced alloys, composites and 3-D printed parts.

Hinchcliffe attended Space Camp in Huntsville as a child and dreamed of being an astronaut, but answered the need for speed in 2002 when he started racing the Junior Kart series in his native Canada. He was the IndyCar Rookie of the Year in 2011 and was voted Favorite Driver of the Year by fans in 2012. He is in his fifth season as an IndyCar Series driver and is with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports.

The International Space Station has traveled farther and faster than the IndyCar racer, orbiting Earth every 90 minutes at more than 17,000 miles per hour. The space station, including its large solar arrays, spans the area of a U.S. football field, including the end zones, and weighs 924,739 pounds. The complex now has more livable room than a conventional six-bedroom house, and has two bathrooms, a gymnasium and a 360-degree bay window.

Media interested in attending should contact Tracy McMahan in Marshall’s Public and Employee Communications Office at 256-544-0034 no later than 3 p.m. Thursday, April 23. Media must report to the Redstone Arsenal Joint Visitor Control Center at Gate 9, Interstate 565 interchange at Rideout Road/Research Park Boulevard by 2:30 p.m. on April 24. Vehicles are subject to a security search at the gate. Media will need two photo identifications and proof of car insurance.

For more information about the International Space Station, visit:

Space Station B-roll is available at the following site: