Check out NASA's Mars Rover concept vehicle at Summer of Mars on the Intrepid. Credit: NASA
Check out NASA's Mars Rover concept vehicle at Summer of Mars on the Intrepid. Credit: NASA

A trip to Mars sounds like a better idea by the day, and rest assured that NASA is still working hard to open the next frontier of the Space Race.

 

This week, you’ll get a look inside all that the National Aeronautics and Space Administration is doing to cross those 34 million miles to the Red Planet during Summer of Mars at the Intrepid Museum.

 

“What people don’t realize is the space program is still going on,” says Desiree Scialpi, director of marketing at the Intrepid. “NASA is still working hard, and they’re still moving forward.”

 

 

The centerpiece will be NASA’s huge Mars Rover concept vehicle parked right on the pier in front of the Intrepid, where all activities are free to the public on Aug. 3-6 (with many others free with museum admission).

 

Although the nearly 11-foot-tall, 5,000-pound rover is not destined for the Red Planet, it’s a glimpse of the best guess scientists can make at a viable vehicle for the person (or people) who makes the journey — NASA is aiming for 2030.

To show you how, the space agency is bringing a whole expo featuring everything you ever wanted to know about the agency’s Journey to Mars mission. From launching you there (via virtual reality) to interactive games about the Martian natural world (like finding out what else you can grow besides potatoes) and actually putting your hands on NASA’s latest tech.

Beyond Mars, you’ll see into deep space (and yes, we’re sending people there, too) with the James Webb Space Telescope, NASA’s newest launch systems and plane designs, and go all the way back to life just after the Big Bang. There’s of course talks with scientists and first-hand accounts of life in space from astronauts.

Summer of Mars coincides with the Intrepid Museum’s Space & Science Festival, which brings tons of activities, exhibits and talks to the Intrepid’s pier, flight deck — home to the Space Shuttle Enterprise — and museum from Aug.1-6.

Now in its sixth year, it’s a chance to check in with all aspects of space technology whether you’re a kid who still dreams of being an astronaut or an enthusiast from when we first landed on the moon in 1969.

Just some of the highlights include taking a spin on the Space Camp classic multi-axis trainer, drones you can build and fly, a space-themed Lego mural, robotics demonstrations, a free screening of “The Martian” (Aug. 1) and a ticketed play called “Moon Shot.”

“It’s a super action-packed show where the performers are on a small stage about 21 square feet, which is about as tight as the original Mercury capsule,” explains Ashley Allen, public relations director for the Intrepid. “They’re basically using only their bodies and voices to bring to life the history of human exploration from the Cold War to Sputnik.”

Speaking of exploration, check in with the Intergalactic Travel Bureau before booking your next flight. “They’ll simulate rock climbing on Mars and skiing on Pluto,” explains Scialpi. “It’s an interactive science theater that has these travel agents and astronomers who use real data to create personalized vacations in space.”

How’s about making that happen in our lifetimes, NASA?

If you go
Space & Science Festival
Aug. 1-6
Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum
Pier 86 (46th St. and 12th Ave.)
Free-$33, intrepidmuseum.org