It’s Star Wars Day! And while we’d all like to blast off into space to celebrate, that idea is still out of reach for most mere mortals/anyone who isn’t Elon Musk or Richard Branson or an actual astronaut.
So, in consolation, let’s get excited by the ways we can explore space with our feet firmly planted on the Earth. Space themed holiday, anyone?
Thanks to TripAdvisor, here’s a a roundup of the highest rated space attractions on our humble planet.
Canberra´s Deep Space Complex – owned by NASA and operated on their behalf by the CSIRO – is one of only 3 comms complexes in the world and the only one in the Southern Hemisphere, the others being in Madrid, Spain and Goldstone, California. They provide 24-hour coverage of the Solar System as the Earth revolves. The one in Canberra proudly exhibits the biggest moon rock on display outside the US, as well as clothing worn by some of the real life American astronauts, space food as well as a suit you can pose behind to get a great shot.
Other space related highlights in the Asia Pacific region are the Tsukuba Space Center, Japan, the center for Japan Aeronautical and Space Development located in the Tsukuba Science City, a city that was built dedicated to Japanese achievement in Science and Technology, and the Uchinoura Space Center, Japan.
In the Americas there’s NASA´s Kennedy Space Center, in Cape Canaveral which is probably the most important and well known space site in the world. Just a short step from Orlando, it´s where rockets are launched from, includes a children´s space camp and the famous original Space Shuttle Atlantis. You can visit the Space Center on a private tour for $72, which includes a lunch with a real live astronaut and a virtual moon walk. As long as you´re in Cape Canaveral, visit also the U.S. Air Force Space & Missile Museum.
The NASA Space Center in Houston is another must-see for space fanatics. Travellers highlight the Saturn Rocket and the tour of the Shuttle with the 747, testament to the greatness of the space industry. The Smithsonian National Museum of Space and Air, Washington DC, currently the 3rd most recommended visit in the capital of the U.S., will also show you authentic memorabilia, such as full scale versions of several space craft and even originals of a few re-entry vehicles, probes, rockets and other instrumentation. If you want to enjoy the full experience, you can book a private tour starting from $120, which will take you on an exploration of the collection that includes everything from space suits, to moon rocks, and a model of the International Space Station.
And for those wishing to admire the great atmosphere, there´s no place better than the Atacama Desert, South America’s largest astronomical observatory. There is a special stargazing tour, including aid from a professional astronomer, who will teach you to read the sky, identify stars, nebulae and capture photographs of the moon’s crater covered surfaces, with the aid of 10 high-powered telescopes.
In Europe you can dive into one of the greatest historical battles between The Soviet Union and United States: The Space Race, visiting the Space Museum in Moscow. Although, during the Cold War there was never a direct confrontation between the two superpowers their constant rivalry was felt nowhere better than in the race to conquer Space. In this museum you will be able to contemplate the first satellite “Sputnik”, the first dogs in space, rockets and rocket engines, all types of satellites, equipment, and actual Soyuz capsules that returned from space.
Other European countries also boast with some of the space museums best rated by travellers, like the National Space Center in Leicestershire UK – where children can train to be astronauts, the Space Expo in the Netherlands, or the Air and Space Museum in France.
And for children looking to become moonwalkers, Space Camp Turkey is one of only three space camps in the world. It is open year round for school groups and individuals, and features hands on learning in a fun filled environment. They have simulators patterned after NASA astronaut trainers.
So there you go. Space holiday? Sorted. Happy Star Wars Day, everyone!