INFINITY Science Center Opens to Public Following COVID-19 Closure
INFINITY Science Center, the official visitors center of NASA’s Stennis Space Center, officially reopened its doors to the public for the first time May 29 following its temporary closing on Dec. 30, 2020, due to COVID 19.
During a daylong grand opening event, visitors were greeted by Stennis astronaut mascots Orbie and Starla; special Stars Wars guests, including Chewbacca and Darth Vader; the International Star Trek Fan Association; the Mandeville Robotics Team 2992; and others. They also had a chance to engage in various hands-on activities hosted by a team of Stennis visitor relations specialists.
By blending space, Earth science, engineering, and technology content to create a unique learning environment, INFINITY Science Center attracts guests from far and wide, all hoping to get a hands-on understanding of space.
Some end up at the site by chance. Robert Watson was traveling from Florida on vacation when he stumbled upon the center, which he considered a moment of luck. “This place is awesome,” he said. “The kids are enjoying it. I’ve had fun. Everything so far, so good, and we are going to the 3D theatre later, too.” Watson’s daughters, busy tie-dying plates next to him, said they hope to become a scientist and astronaut, respectively.
Entering the center, guests first encounter The Earth Gallery, which features such exhibits as the Inundation Station, the Sandbox, and Environmental Monitoring Stations. A Hurricane Prediction Lab offers guests a hands-on and up-close opportunity to learn about the key conditions that influence hurricanes. Visitors also can learn about the Gulf of Mexico, observing a variety of sea life at the Deep Ocean Explorer exhibit.
Following The Earth Gallery, guests are ready to travel back in time through the Space Gallery, featuring early space history and a progression of NASA exploration missions from the Apollo Program to construction of the new Space Launch System rocket designed to return humans to the Moon as part of the Artemis program and power eventual missions to Mars. In this gallery, visitors can see the advancement of technology in real-time, building excitement for future missions and technological advancements.
“I remember when I was growing up, they used to show every time the space shuttle would take off,” said Tiffany Brown, a member of the USS Neptune NNC-75013, the Biloxi-based Star Trek Fan Association. “They would show it in school, and I wanted so badly to be on the space shuttle. I’ve always had my head in the stars. It’s just amazing what’s out there.” Brown’s visits to INFINITY only amplify this excitement, allowing her to learn about the real science behind the science fiction world she fell in love with on as a child.