On January 28, 1986, the Space Shuttle named Challenger, exploded and broke apart 73 seconds into its flight. All seven crew members, including school teacher Christa McAuliffe, were killed. The tragedy was witnessed live by millions of Americans as well as people from other parts of the world.
In Memory of the Challenger Crew
As a permanent memorial to the brave souls who lost their lives, the families of the crew helped to start a non-profit organization that would encourage school kids and others to learn more about space science. Based in Washington D.C., the Challenger Center for Space Science Education was born, and today there are 52 learning centers around the United States and in several other countries. In Arizona, you can find one of those learning centers in the beautiful city of Peoria.
Where, When and How Much?
The Challenger Space Center Arizona is located at 21170 North 83rd Avenue in Peoria, AZ.
Just twenty minutes away from the Scottsdale Thunderbird Suites, the museum is open year-round (Monday through Saturday) from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. (closed December 24-27 & January 1st). General admission is $8.00 for adults, $7.00 for Seniors and Military, $6.00 for children age 3-12, and free to children under 3 and Challenger Members.
Enjoy a fun and educational experience om multiple levels. The museum has three levels of exhibits and a large collection of autographed memorabilia and mission patches. You can see a satellite, touch a landing gear tire from the Space Shuttle Discovery, or become a member of the crew on a simulated space mission. Following are just some of the exhibits and things you can see and do at the Challenger Space Center.
ASU Meteorite Exhibit
Have you ever seen a meteorite? Thanks to the generosity of the Arizona State University’s Center for Meteorite Studies, visitors will have the rare opportunity to see a variety of specimens of “rocks” that fell from space and landed on earth.
Landing Gear Tire from the Discovery Space Shuttle
Okay, seeing a big tire is not exactly as exciting as floating around in a gravity-free space capsule, but it is an interesting stop on your tour. Unlike an Apollo space capsule that had no tires and landed in the ocean, the Space Shuttle glided down for a landing and could be used for new missions. The tires were made to support three-times the weight of the much larger Boeing 747 tires.
Atlantis Space Shuttle Model
Courtesy of the Honeywell Corporation, visitors can view a 10-foot high model of the Atlantis Space Shuttle and learn about the 30-year history of NASA’s Space Shuttle program.
My Solar System – Catch a Planet
Kids will have a great time in this interactive exhibit that both entertains and teaches. Wave your hand over Mars or Saturn and hold on to the virtual planet. A bubble will appear and reveal some cool facts about your planet.
Even More to Keep You Happy
• Fly to Outer Space on a simulated mission to space
• See a life-size Iridium satellite model
• Attend a fun and interesting presentation on light (Saturdays)
• Marvel at the four-story high “Tour of the Universe” space mural
• Eat ice cream created with the help of liquid nitrogen
• Visit the Galaxy Gift Shop for unique space toys, books and more
Spend an enjoyable day in Peoria at the Challenger Space Center Arizona museum. It’s only a short drive from the Scottsdale Thunderbird Suites and you might find out if there is a future astronaut in your family.