HANCOCK COUNTY, Miss. – StenniSphere, the visitor center at John C. Stennis
Space Center in south Mississippi, has entertained and educated more than
250,000 visitors within its first year of operation. Ruth Roper of
La., became StenniSphere’s 250,000th visitor this morning.

The visitor center officially reopened as StenniSphere on May 25, 2000,
and has witnessed record crowds since its Memorial Day opening. More than a
quarter of a million visitors representing all 50 states and more than 40
foreign countries have toured the 14,000 square feet of interactive
exhibits and displays at StenniSphere. More than 59,996 school students from
pre-kindergarten to college are included in this figure. Overall,

has more than doubled its visitor count in its first year of operation.
“Much of the increase in visitors can be attributed to StenniSphere tours
originating from the Launch Pad tour stop at the popular Hancock County
Center on Interstate 10,” said NASA’s Myron Webb, Public Affairs Officer at
Stennis Space Center. “We at NASA couldn’t be more pleased with our
with the Mississippi Development Authority’s Division of Tourism Development
the Mississippi Transportation Commission. This win-win arrangement gives
Stennis Space Center more visibility and also contributes to a more high
image of the state.”

More visitors from Louisiana, a total of 66,934, have toured StenniSphere
this year than from any other state. Nearly 52,000 visitors from Mississippi
have toured StenniSphere since its opening last Memorial Day weekend.
Because of the enhanced visitor experience and its success in attracting
visitors, StenniSphere was named Mississippi’s Travel Attraction of the Year
the Mississippi Tourism Association in February 2001.

StenniSphere offers more than 50 indoor and outdoor exhibits sponsored by
NASA, the Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command, and other resident
agencies at the center. Live presentations take place throughout the museum
auditorium. Some exciting interactive attractions include exhibits that
visitors to test fire a Space Shuttle Main Engine, land the Space Shuttle,
aboard the International Space Station or explore Mars.

On display at the Launch Pad tour stop at the Hancock County Welcome
Center, and serving as a tribute to Stennis’ role in getting America to the
Moon, is a 30-foot tall replica of a Lunar Lander that was used as a trainer
Apollo astronauts. At the base of the exhibit are the boot prints and
of Apollo 13 astronaut Fred Haise, a native of the area.

Upon boarding tour vehicles, visitors take a 25-minute narrated tour
through Stennis Space Center’s unique 125,000-acre acoustical buffer zone to
America’s largest rocket propulsion test complex, where Apollo-era Saturn V
engines were tested in the 1960s. The Space Shuttle’s powerful main engines
tested there today as well as the next generation rocket engines for future

The RocKeTeria, a space-themed, 1960s-style restaurant, offers a full menu
from burgers to po-boys to soft drinks and soda fountain treats. The Space
Odyssey Gift Shop provides visitors with an opportunity to take home the
Stuff” as souvenirs or gifts.

Admission to StenniSphere is free. The visitor center is open daily from 9
a.m. to 5 p.m. except New Year’s Day, Easter, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas
and Christmas Day. Tours depart on a regular schedule each day – every 15 to
minutes – from the Launch Pad tour stop at the Mississippi I-10 Welcome

For more information or to make reservations for groups, call StenniSphere
at (228) 688-2370 or 1-800-237-1821 (Option 1) in Mississippi and Louisiana,
access the StenniSphere home page on the World Wide Web at