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

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 field trips.

“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

“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

For more information about the Starship 2040 exhibit and a complete listing
of upcoming tour dates, visit:

More about NASA Space Transportation Programs

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 nation.

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 propulsion systems.

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: