09.26.2016
A walk on Mars may be in the future for astronauts, but at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex (KSCVC), guests don’t have to wait.
 
A new, limited-time attraction – Destination: Mars – opened Sept. 19 at KSCVC, which Delaware North operates for NASA. The new exhibit makes it possible for guests to “walk on Mars” by using real imagery from NASA’s Curiosity Mars Rover brought to life by Microsoft HoloLens, the world’s first self-contained holographic computer running Windows 10. The experience will be located in a pop-up theater and will be available through Jan. 1, 2017.
 
“The opportunity to get up close and personal with a walk on Mars is so exciting and we can’t wait for our guests to experience the thrill of it,” said Therrin Protze, chief operating officer of Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. “We’re particularly honored to offer Destination: Mars, as it is exclusive to Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, offering our guests an experience they can’t have anywhere else: a real look into NASA’s work on Mars.”
 
Developed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL) and Microsoft HoloLens, Destination: Mars will give guests the opportunity to “visit” several sites on Mars using real imagery from NASA’s Curiosity Mars Rover.

A holographic Buzz Aldrin will guide guests to Mars in mixed reality using Microsoft HoloLens, meaning that virtual elements are merged with the user’s actual environment, creating a world in which real and virtual objects can interact. Visitors will “follow” Buzz and Curiosity Rover driver Erisa Hines of JPL, as they lead guests to areas of Mars where scientists have made exciting discoveries.
 
Buzz Aldrin, who was on hand for the exhibit’s grand opening, said that he hoped the exhibit would inspire human exploration of Mars. He noted that the 50th anniversary observation of the tragic Apollo 1 mission will take place on Jan. 27, 2017 – one week after the next United States presidential inauguration.
 
“[It] provides an ideal opportunity for a president to make a commitment to our future on Mars,” Aldrin told USA Today.

The opening of Destination: Mars capped off an exciting week at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, during which they were also voted as one of the country’s top 25 museums in the TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice Awards. The honor, which placed the KSCVC among such esteemed company as the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City and the Art Institute of Chicago, earned it a mention on CNN.com (found here) and a special congratulations from Cheryl Hurst, NASA’s director of communications and public engagement.

PHOTO CAPTION: From left to right: Therrin Protze, chief operating officer, Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex; Robert Cabana, Director, John F. Kennedy Space Center; Buzz Aldrin, ShareSpace Foundation founder and Apollo 11 astronaut; Kudo Tsunoda, CVP Next Gen Experiences, Windows & Devices Group HoloLens/Microsoft; and Dr. Jeff Norris, Mission Operations Innovation Lead, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) cut the ribbon for Destination: Mars.
 
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