Explore the Universe at Space Foundation Discovery Center

Explore the Universe at Space Foundation Discovery Center

“We’re going to a museum to learn about space,” I excitedly told my family. I was surprised when they balked at the news.

“We don’t want to go learn about space! Who wants to do that? Dad, why do you always have us go to these places we don’t want to go to?” my kids argued.

Their tunes changed after our visit to Space Foundation Discovery Center in Colorado Springs, CO. I heard so many complaints about going in the days leading up to our trip. However, once we were there, I practically had to drag my family out the door when it was time to leave. I think they were ready to set up camp and spend several days at the Center.

The Space Foundation Discovery Center in Colorado Springs

The Space Foundation Discovery Center, located in an unassuming warehouse area, doesn’t look like much from the outside. But, once inside, we found a facility packed with everything someone interested in space exploration could find.

Space Foundation Model
One of the many models on display at Space Foundation Discovery Center.

Although the Space Foundation pays tribute to space exploration from every country, the primary focus is on U.S. space exploration and the NASA program. The facility houses replicas, models and actual apparatus used by NASA. While exploring, you understand the scope of the U.S. program. You also appreciate the size of instruments and technology used by NASA.

A view into Space
This model hangs above your head at the Space Foundation

What You Can Do at Space Foundation Discovery Center

We most liked the interactive programs set up for the kids, and those who are kids at heart. Our visit coincided with culminating activities from the tail end of Spring Break.

We helped build a Rube Goldberg machine, and watched it get set off during our visit. The robotic Mars Rover was a favorite with our kids as they worked to navigate the terrain of the Red Planet with our robot and iPad.

Drive a Mars Rover
One of the robotic rovers you can navigate at Space Foundation Discovery Center
Robotic Drive
Our son navigates his Mars Rover to docking station 4

We absolutely recommend you spend some time in the Science on a Sphere listening to the docent talk about the universe with the use of a spherical orb. Our docent was so knowledgeable and answered any question asked quickly and thoroughly.

Seeing Stars
The Space Foundation Discovery Center hosts docent talks at Science on a Sphere.

We also visited Area 51 (not the actual military location in the Nevada desert, but a meeting room), where we enjoyed dissecting two toy Talking Elmos, discovering the circuits and wires that made Elmo talk, dance and sing. It is alarming how much our entire family enjoyed pulling off Elmo’s fur and ripping off limbs in order to get to the inner workings of the toy. This activity gave us a look into the world of engineering, which is so integral to space technology.

Space Foundation Discovery Center
Our kids had too much fun disassembling Talking Elmo in order to see the wiring and gadgetry inside.

Other activities throughout the facility gave our kids opportunity to learn about physics, engineering, and robotics. They had so much fun playing that they did not know they were learning.

Driving a robot
Our son steers an underwater robot at the Space Foundation

What You Will See at Space Foundation Discover Center

While we enjoyed the interactive activities at Space Foundation Discover Center, we really appreciated the models and displays that informed us about U.S. space exploration.

Space Shuttle Model
A model displaying the docking position of a Space Shuttle when at the Mir Space Station
Space Program Models
Full-Size apparatus, like this NASA Orbital ATK piece, also are displayed.

What do astronauts wear in space? We saw multiple U.S. and Soviet space suits and learned about the clothing worn to absorb liquids.

How do astronauts train to go to the International Space Station? We found out as we entered a replica Spacelab, a scientific laboratory used on earth to help astronauts prepare for Space Shuttle trips to the Space Station.

NASA Training Module
Me in front of the training pod used by astronauts.

We saw the Scott Carpenter Station, NASA’s undersea capsule used to simulate the environment of space.

Underwater Rover
Underwater vehicle used by NASA scientists to help simulate possible underwater sites on Europa

Four scaled model rockets are on display at the Center. We learned how rockets launch using solid and liquid propellants.

Rocket Models
a display of rocket models are on display

What’s the Future of Space Exploration

The Cold War between the U.S. and the former Soviet Union was a catalyst for space exploration in the 1960s and 70s. The Space Foundation Discovery Center pays homage to this time, with displays and history of the space race in these decades.

Space Race
This display illustrates the race to land a person on the moon during the 1960s
Bust of Gagarin
A bronze bust of Soviet Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, the first person in space.

In recent decades, with the end of the cold war and some tragic Space Shuttle accidents, interest in and funding for the space programs has decreased. However, that does not mean that the era of space exploration is in the past. During our tour, we learned from docents of plans to return to the moon in 2019, and plans to send astronauts to Mars in the next few years.

Our Take

While it was a fight to get the family to the space museum, we totally enjoyed our time there. I anticipated a two-hour visit, however, we had so much fun that we spent four hours. We left feeling we could go back for other visits and still learn more and have more to see. There were plenty of interactive activities for our kids. The docents were knowledgeable and very helpful. There was not a question we asked that the docents were unable to answer.

If you are in the Colorado Springs area, we would recommend a visit to Space Foundation Discovery Center.

Tell us what you think. Have you been to Space Foundation or a NASA facility? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

You Might Also Like:

Here are some other Colorado Springs attractions you may want to visit:

The U.S. Olympic Training Center: Read about our visit to the Center here.

Great Wolf Lodge:  We enjoyed the water park and so much more. Read about our stay here.

Disclaimer: We were delighted to be the guests of Space Foundation Discovery Center. As always, all opinions are our own. You can read our disclosure here.


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