When Starship 2040 touches down in Middle Tennessee next week, it won’t
descend thunderously from the heavens, as this “spacecraft” hitches a ride
inside a gleaming – but Earth-bound – tractor and trailer rig, after all.

But space transportation officials from NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center
in Huntsville, Ala., are confident the experience will send Tennesseans’
imaginations straight into orbit.

Designed to share NASA’s vision of what commercial spaceflight might be like
40 years from now, the rolling Starship 2040 exhibit is embarking on a
three-city tour of Middle Tennessee April 23-28. The tour will include
stopovers in Smyrna, Mt. Juliet and Cookeville. (A complete tour itinerary

“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.”

Housed in a 48-foot (14.6-meter) trailer, the exhibit lets visitors walk
through a mock-up of the spacecraft’s control, passenger and engineering
compartments, gaining insight into the technologies that eventually will
make such an out-of-this-world experience as routine as air travel.

“This isn’t just science fiction,” Rogacki says. “We intend to make a
future much like the one demonstrated by Starship 2040 a reality.”

The Middle Tennessee visit marks Starship 2040’s first major public tour,
following its inaugural, seven-city trip through its home state of Alabama
in February. The exhibit also routinely visits national-level conferences,
trade shows and industry events, such as the National Manufacturing Week
conference in Chicago in March.

One host of the Tennessee tour is eager to see a somewhat younger audience
turn out when the spacecraft “touches down” in his home area, however.

“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.

“Our nation’s space exploration has fueled astronomical leaps in technology
which have enhanced immeasurably our quality of life here on earth,” Gordon
says. “Future research in space could lead to revolutionary breakthroughs
in medicine and benefit industry by developing stronger, lighter metals or
more powerful computer chips.

“Some of the kids who tour the exhibit could lead that future research,” he

NASA is the nation’s premier agency for development of Space Transportation
systems, including reusable launch vehicle technologies. The Marshall Space
Flight Center is leading this effort, aimed at enabling dramatic
improvements in the safety, cost and reliability of future space
transportation systems.

For more information about the exhibit, visit http://www.Starship2040.com


April 23-24 Smyrna High School,

100 Bulldog Drive, Smyrna, Tenn.

Public/student tours: 2-5 p.m. (April 23), 8 a.m.-5 p.m. (April 24)

April 25-26 West Elementary School,

9315 Lebanon Rd., Mt Juliet, Tenn.

Public/student tours: 2-5 p.m. (April 25), 8 a.m.-3 p.m. (April 26)

April 27-28 Tennessee Tech University,

Bartoo Hall Quad, Cookeville, Tenn.

Public/student tours: 2-6 p.m. (April 27), 8 a.m.-5 p.m. (April 28)