Space, the final frontier, becomes a little more tangible for those who visit NASA – A Human Adventure, when the exhibition featuring actual space-flown items opens on Saturday (Nov 19) at the ArtScience Museum.
These include a nose cone from a Jupiter rocket which was retrieved in the sea; film magazines and film frames that have been to the moon and back on the Apollo missions; and fragments of the world’s first long-range ballistic missile, the V-2, which was developed by the Germans during World War II.
Displaying more than 200 artefacts from the American and Soviet Union’s space programmes – including replicas of spacecraft and spacesuits, examples of space food, and children’s toys with outer space-inspired designs – the exhibition details the accomplishments of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa) in the field of space exploration.
The artefacts were shipped here by sea in 19 large containers. Its organiser ArtScience Museum says it is the largest space flight exhibition in Singapore.
The majority of the exhibits are on loan from the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center and the U.S. Space Rocket Center in Alabama.
Some of the replicas are made by John Nurminen Events, the show’s producer. Since it was created in 2010, the exhibition has travelled to nine countries including Turkey, Sweden and Korea.
Exhibition curator Jukka Nurminen says: “The reception has been fantastic. People are interested in how others have survived in space because it’s not something many of us can do ourselves. We hope the exhibition inspires people to dream big and aim high in their lives.”
He will lead a tour on Saturday and Sunday at 11.30am. It is open to only the first 25 ticket holders to sign up on each day.
Highlights include a full-scale replica of a capsule from the Mercury spacecraft, the first human space flight programme for the United States that ran from 1961 to 1963.
It was significant for its role in the US’ space race against the Soviet Union during the Cold War, when the two countries fought to put the first man in space (the Soviet Union’s Yuri Gagarin did it in 1961) and the first man to land on the moon (American Neil Armstrong achieved this in 1969 with the Apollo 11 mission).
Another full-scale replica re-creates the crew cabin and forward fuselage of the Space Shuttle. The orbital spacecraft, which was the first to be able to transport cargo to space and back, was in operation between 1981 and 2011.
A G-force simulator gives visitors a taste of what it is like to launch into space. The two-minute experience, which costs $6 to $9 a person, simulates a flight on the 1961 Mercury Liberty Bell 7 with the late American astronaut Gus Grissom.
During the experience, visitors will encounter a g-force of up to 2G – two times the force of gravity on Earth, and slightly under the 3G that astronauts can face during a rocket launch.
Complementing the exhibition is an art installation that allows people to “listen to space” by Indonesian artist Venzha Christ.
Titled Indonesia Space Science Society, the work, developed by the artist together with scientists and engineers, collects radiowaves from the planets and the stars and transmits them as sound within the gallery.
Ms Honor Harger, executive director of the ArtScience Museum, says: “Ideas about space popped into our consciousness not just from Nasa, but from science fiction and literature as well. Our imagination of space has been shaped by both art and science.
“We wanted to make the exhibition specific to South-east Asia and Singapore. The work asks the question of who gets to do space exploration, and who gets to claim the space above us.”
Emphasising that South-east Asia has a role to play in the space exploration field, the museum has programmed a discussion happening tomorrow at 2pm, led by individuals working in the space industry in the region. It is not ticketed, but requires pre-registration at the museum’s lobby.
Speakers include Singapore-based ex-Nasa rocket scientist Bidushi Bhattacharya; Malaysian engineer Izmir Yamin, who is trying to launch a rover on the moon by 2018; Ms Lynette Tan, director of corporate management at the Singapore Space and Technology Association; and artist Christ.
Says Ms Harger: “People have the perception that space exploration is an American story. It’s a human story.”
NASA – A HUMAN ADVENTURE
When: Tomorrow till March 19 , 10am to 7pm
Where: ArtScience Museum, Marina Bay Sands, 10 Bayfront Avenue
Admission: Monday to Thursday: $15 to $20 (adult), $9 to $12 (child). Friday to Sunday: $19 to $25 (adult), $11 to $15 (child). Tickets to the G-Force Astronaut Trainer ride cost $6 (Mon-Thur) and $9 (Fri-Sun).
CONVERSATIONS: DREAM SPACE
When: Tomorrow(Nov 19), 2pm
Where: Expression Gallery, Level 4, ArtScience Museum
Admission: Free. Visitors must register at the museum lobby.