Not leaving Earth? There’s still a way to experience Mars.

Contributed by
Dec 17, 2017

If you don’t see yourself getting off Earth by the time the first humans start to take off to Mars, you don’t need to worry about fear of missing out, because the Mars Base 1 program at Kennedy Space Center can take you there without ever leaving the home planet.

After their beyond-awesome Mars Experience Tour this summer, Kennedy wants to level up from exhibits and futuristic rover concepts to put you in astronaut boots so you can experience what both getting to Mars and living there will actually be like. If you think you can handle training like an astronaut and surviving on the Red Planet for seven hours, then you’ll want to be on board.

Enter The Astronaut Training Experience (ATX) if your body is ready. Five hours of Launch Mission, Living and Working in Space and Mars Operations programs will get you prepared for (virtual) liftoff as you face much of what Mars-tronauts will be confronting before and after takeoff. You will sit at a legit mission control station as a vital part of the launch of NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) in Launch Mission, which involves following the timeline, making informed decisions (you know, to avoid crashing and burning) and communicating with your team so no one else crashes the ship.

Getting into astronaut mode at ATX. Credit: Kennedy Space Center

Living and Working In Space will tell you more than you ever thought you’d need to know about spaceship toilets, kitchens and sleep stations. You’d also better get used to the extravehicular tethers and tools that astronauts use on spacewalks, because you actually will be performing a mock spacewalk in the facility’s state-of-the-art microgravity simulator. Once you can handle a nearly zero-g environment, the awesomely realistic simulators in Mars Operations will have you landing, driving and walking on Mars. Except this version of Mars comes without the freezing temperatures and almost nonexistent atmosphere.

So now you’ve completed training and are (virtually) blasting off to Mars via the 4D Mars Transfer Theater. When you touch down, you’ll train in four different types of base ops at the Operations Center. It might be around then you realize there are no fast-food joints 33.9 million miles away from Earth. No problem, because you’ll plant, maintain and harvest vegetables in the Life Science Lab, where you will also collect and analyze the same data NASA scientists do and actually eat Martian “takeout”. You’ll even get to program a robot to do the cleaning for you in a solar cell. Too bad you can’t take that robot back to your place.

Oh, and after you’re back on Earth—even though you’ve really been on Earth all along—you can record what the mission was like at a Video Log Station. Now that’s something to post on Facebook.

(via Kennedy Space Center)