For Release: April 10, 2000

Jerry Berg
Media Relations Department
(256) 544-0034

RELEASE: 00-129

Click here for Photos

It’s not every day the public can step into the world of rocket scientists, meet an
astronaut, or take a sky-dive simulation ride. Yet these are just a few of the free,
out-of-this world experiences on tap Saturday, May 20, when NASA’s Marshall
Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., opens its doors from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Visitors will get a closeup look behind the scenes of the Marshall Center’s
high-tech research and development complex.

At NASA’s premier center for space transportation and propulsion systems, they’ll
see it does take a rocket scientist to make possible the wonders of America’s
space program, such as the Marshall-managed X-vehicle demonstrators aimed at
making space travel more reliable and affordable.

Another such wonder — a mammoth Saturn V rocket capable of launching humans
to the Moon — was conceived at Marshall. Miniature versions of that rocket, the
Mercury-Redstone, the Space Shuttle and others will be featured in a special show
on the history of rocketry.

With flashes of fire and billowing smoke, each miniature — measuring several feet
in length — will be launched toward the heavens by the Huntsville Area Rocketry
Association. The rockets will soar several hundred feet over the Marshall Center,
deploy their parachutes, and a “recovery team” will make the retrievals.

Open House visitors also will hear the powerful rumble and see billows of exhaust
plume when witnessing live test firings at the Hot Gas Facility. The facility has
tested materials used on NASA’s most advanced space vehicles, including the
Space Shuttle.

NASA astronauts will be on-hand to mingle with the public, sign autographs, and
even provide musical entertainment. “Max Q” — an all-astronaut rock-n-roll band —
is among musical groups scheduled to perform at the Open House.

Also on the entertainment roster are dance exhibitions, local radio personalities,
Sparkles the Clown and Officer McGruff, the crime dog.

For a musical glimpse at the Rocket City’s role in America’s space program,
visitors can enjoy a sneak preview of performances from “Moon Dreams,” a
Broadway-style musical set to debut this summer in Huntsville.

To learn more about Marshall’s history, visitors can stroll through the Marshall
Heritage Gallery to view space-related artwork, models of NASA space vehicles,
and historical memorabilia about Dr. Wernher von Braun, the rocket pioneer who
became Marshall’s first director in 1960.

For children, miniature pedal-planes can be booked for a “flight.” Climbing into
realistic airplane simulators, pedaling down a colorful runway and taxiing into a
controlled airspace, young people will experience the exhilaration of flight.

For those seeking the thrill of skydiving, the X-Treme™ Air simulator will send
them in a “free fall.” In an enclosed “flying” area, participants will have the sensation
of free fall at 120 mph — without jumping from a plane.

Another attraction, the Morphis™ MovieRide Theater simulator, will let visitors
“journey” to Mars, shoot down a ski slope, take the driver’s seat in a careening
race car, or fly with the Navy’s Blue Angels aerial performance team.

Those who yearn to picture themselves as an astronaut can stick their heads in
life-size cutouts of astronaut suits and a Space Shuttle cockpit for a souvenir photo.
NASA T-shirts and caps and other souvenirs will be available for purchase.

On May 20, visitors may enter Redstone Arsenal for the Marshall Open House
through Gate 9 at the Rideout Road exit of Interstate 565; Gate 8, at Drake Avenue
and Jordan Lane, or Gate 7 at Zierdt Road near the Huntsville International Airport.

Visitors may purchase food and refreshments on site.

Maps of the Marshall Center, including locations of event facilities and activities,
will be distributed to visitors as they enter the arsenal. Every tour stop is accessible
to the handicapped.

Marshall’s last open house in 1998 was attended by more than 26,000 people.

More information and directions can be obtained 24 hours a day by calling (888)
901-NASA or by visiting the Open House Web site at:

In conjunction with the Open House, hundreds of aerospace and transportation
officials, engineers and scientists are slated to gather in Huntsville May 18-19 for
NASA’s second “Turning Goals Into Reality” conference, also hosted by the
Marshall Center.