Cool Stuff

From Christopher Columbus to Lewis and Clark, pioneering minds have wanted to know “What’s out there?” Space exploration is another step toward answering that question as we launch into Destination Space, the newest exhibit at Science Museum Oklahoma. Newton’s Laws are set into motion with hands-on stations in every corner. Once “Decontamination is complete,” visitors are free to move about the cabin to see the actual Apollo Command Module Mission Simulator, used by the astronauts on all the Apollo missions, and dramatized on the 1995 movie, Apollo 13. Future astronauts can learn about everything from how astronauts sleep on board the shuttle to how space toilets function, and all the challenges involved in exploring the universe.


What You'll Learn

How does a rocket take off? How does gravity work? What do satellites do? These are just a few of the questions that we have about space amongst a vast history of space exploration. Some of the most brilliant minds in the world have dedicated their lives to answering these questions and have found many of the answers through physical science.

Physics help to explain things like aerodynamics, which tells us how an object interacts with air when it is in motion. Aerodynamics is a big part of how rockets manage to launch into space successfully, allowing for space travel and things like landing on the moon! Physical science also tells us how gravity works and why we can walk on earth, but not on the moon without floating away. The general theory of relativity, created by Albert Einstein, is what we still use today to describe gravity as a property of the geometry of space and time. Satellite technology is another amazing result of space exploration and science. It is the reason why you can talk to friends on your cell phone or use GPS in your car. We use satellites for an endless amount of things including television, Google Maps, weather forecasts, and so much more.

The advances of the last 50 years are extraordinary. With each new wave of technology, our destinations are more distant and more complex. Examining the progression from Sputnik to Explorer 1, Project Mercury to the Apollo missions, one can’t help but stand in awe of the mavericks that first burst from Earth’s atmosphere and then wonder what the next 50 years will hold. Destination Space takes us inside the world of an astronaut, so that we too can be a part of their journey to discovery.

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The Space Race - Sputnik vs. Explorer 1

In the 1950s, the space race between the USSR and the United States was perceived as a critical factor to the US’ reign as a superpower. As it turns out they were right; because of the success of the United States in the race to space we still reap the benefits today through a great amount of economic freedom and political influence internationally. During the Cold War, the potential military applications and morale-boosting social component of space superiority became an important factor in determining which country held the most influence throughout the world. It all began when the USSR launched Sputnik in October of 1957. Americans panicked and political debate ensued, inciting President Eisenhower to begin several programs, one of which was the formation of NASA. Prior to Sputnik, most Americans believed the United States to be the forerunner on all technology, including space. Once Sputnik proved otherwise, the US began a massive campaign to revamp education, including the National Defense Education Act, in an effort to regain this worldwide technological upper hand. In response to Sputnik, the United States launched Explorer 1, the first earth satellite of the US, in 1958 and the rest, as they say, is history.