SINGAPORE, Nov 20 — Almost everyone has dreamt of going up to space in a rocket, at least as a child. And every baby boomer remembers one of the first globally televised events, of the astronaut Neil Armstrong landing on the moon. Let’s not forget the influx of blockbuster space movies, from Apollo 13 starring Tom Hanks in 1995, to more recent ones such as Gravity, Interstellar, The Martian and upcoming science fiction thriller Arrival starring Hollywood actors Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner.
Also, in this era of billionaires starting space exploration companies (We are looking at you, Elon Musk), being a space nerd is not just cool, but even lucrative.
So if you want your children to aspire to be the next Musk, there is no better place to start than Singapore’s largest space flight exhibition, Nasa — A Human Adventure at the ArtScience Museum, opening this weekend.
Here are five reasons why you should check out the exhibition.
1) Explore a space shuttle
One of the centrepieces of the sprawling exhibition is a full-scale construction of the front section of Nasa’s iconic Space Shuttle. This was the first spacecraft in the world used for transporting cargo to space and back. The massive exhibit enables visitors to see the flight deck, where astronauts fly the orbiter during the actual launch and landings, and the mid-deck, where shuttle crew eat, sleep and work on experiments. You can imagine life as an astronaut and live your dream of being in a rocket.
2) Instagram-worthy shots
The Nasa Space Shuttle is one of many exhibits that make for a perfect Instagram photo opp. Check out the full-scale replica of the Lunar Module crew cabin set against a backdrop of the lunar landscape, which makes for a perfect photo setting as it gives the illusion that you are on the moon. Other highlights include a full-scale replica of the Apollo Lunar Roving Vehicle, the huge spacecraft landing parachute with its vibrant orange and white stripes hanging overhead, and a display of astronaut costumes through the years.
3) Hear the sounds of space
Remember the movie Gravity where Sandra Bullock’s character was floating out in space? Ever wondered what the experience would be like, or the kind of sounds you would hear in that wide expanse? Indonesian artist Venzha Christiawan’s work provides the answer. He captures transmitted signals from planets and stars and converts them into radio waves, which echo within a darkened room so that visitors can actually hear the sounds of space. A few minutes in the room and the sounds will envelope you, giving you a sense of the vastness of the universe. You can also get to see the radio waves displayed on glowing projections on the surrounding walls of the room.
4) Holiday on Mars, anyone?
Here’s something a tad more thrilling. Head to the G-Force Astronaut Trainer ride at the exhibition, which takes you on a short but adrenaline-pumping simulated flight of the 1961 Mercury Liberty Bell 7. Each ride can accommodate four guests, perfect for a family experience. According to producer and curator Jukka Nurminen, director and chief executive officer of John Nurminen Events B.V., which specialises in developing large-scale exhibitions, private companies are currently working on making space travel a reality in the coming years. So who knows, within a decade, the whole family could be planning for a short holiday trip to Mars or Venus.
5) Relive historic moments
Speaking of Apollo 13, did you know that Oscar-winning film — starring Hollywood actors Tom Hanks, Kevin Bacon, Bill Paxton and Gary Sinise — was based on a real-life account? Also, who can forget the historical moment behind the famous quote uttered by Armstrong as he landed on the moon: “That’s one small step for (a) man, and one giant leap for mankind”? You get to relive these moments and more while exploring exhibits and spacecraft from these missions and hearing live recordings of these historic flights in the background. You also get to see film scenes shot by Apollo astronauts from 1938 to 1972, when Nasa utilised Swedish-made Hasselblad cameras for its lunar operations.
'Nasa — A Human Adventure' runs from Nov 19 to March 19, 2017 at the ArtScience Museum. Tickets are available at all Marina Bay Sands box offices and website. — TODAY