It was a strange sight: Right in front of the entrance to the space fair Space: The Human Quest, a rocket suddenly appeared on Thursday. Anyone who understood space travel, of course, soon realized that it was a replica, but the kids were amazed. “And that is exactly what the educational non-profit SpaceBuzz wants to achieve,” says Janine Jessen, director of the Dutch organization.
There wasn’t much time for further explanation at the moment, because SpaceBuzz was about to leave Earth, and we didn’t want to miss that moment. Only a few astronauts attended for this special occasion, but that didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of tour guide Andre Kuipers.
The legendary Dutch astronaut was not present in person, but the passengers did not notice this. Anyone who sat in one of the nine chairs immediately put VR glasses on their head. Suddenly the universe seemed to be getting very close.
On board with a real astronaut
After a brief welcome into the rocket, the Kuipers prepared everything for launch. The massive virtual reality technology and movable seats made this experience movie-like and almost lifelike. The engine started spinning and seconds later the rocket was hovering above the ground. “Everything you see is real. We are using the photos that Kuipers took during his space missions, they are beautiful.” And Geysen is by no means wrong.
We fly over Holland, see the Wadden Islands, pass through Borneo and the Amazon jungle. A few minutes later, the astronauts on duty also watched the Northern Lights in all their glory. During the flight, passengers receive a professional explanation from Kuipers, who, after a flight to the Moon, easily returns the rocket through the atmosphere on the ground floor.
Inspired by the influence of the overview
Twelve minutes intense, but a real experience. It’s also very useful, “but that’s the intent,” according to Jessen. “The rocket is part of an international educational program that we’re rolling out in schools. It really aims to give children and adults a different perspective on Earth. The whole experience is inspired by the effect of the overview: astronauts look at our planet from space and feel so closely connected to their environment that they want to stick with it when they return.” Little Blue Planet looks very weak in the complete darkness.”
By experimenting with virtual reality, SpaceBuzz wants to create the same effect on people who may never have been to space. That is why we are introducing the School Education Program. The kids go through a whole process, including passing the astronaut exam to eventually become ambassadors for Earth.”
New landing in October
So the whole experience is about a lot more than just space travel. “We use magic to help children discover the Earth and make it a more beautiful place. By the way, at the end of their training they should indicate what they are going to do to this beautiful planet in the coming period,” concludes Geysen.
SpaceBuzz has set its course for its next destination on Thursday afternoon, but on October 3 and 4 participating schools will have the opportunity to take the spaceflight. So the rocket will be within reach of the general public in the afternoon. (Lava)