Payload Blog

New ATX Center at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

Coming this fall to Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is a brand new education center located among the rest of the attractions at the main visitor complex. The new ATX center not only replaces the original Astronaut Training Experience®, this new education center is based upon design principles rooted in STEM learning at Kennedy Space Center. These seven design principles inform the mission of education at the visitor complex:

  1. Programs are based on authentic science and engineering.
  2. Activities will be fun.
  3. Participants engage in activities promoting communication and collaboration skills.
  4. Activities seek a balance between physical and virtual experiences.
  5. Programs, activities, and facility are sustainable.
  6. Resources beyond the facility are used.
  7. Education programs strive for a very high standard.

With this standard in mind we have developed a new Astronaut Training Experience (ATX) and the exciting new Mars Base 1 program. ATX® will provide an opportunity for visitors to train like an astronaut preparing for a mission to Mars. This five-hour program is divided into Launch Mission, Living and Working in Space, and Mars Operations. In Launch Mission trainees participate in the launch of NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket as members of both the launch control team and the Orion vehicle crew. Each trainee sits at a mission control station to follow the time-line, receive information, make informed decisions, and communicate with the team. Living and Working in Space trainees learn about space systems including the toilet, the galley, sleep stations, and extravehicular activity (EVA) tethers and tools. Trainees also perform a spacewalk in a state of the art microgravity simulator. Mars Operations trainees land, drive, and walk on Mars using spectacular new simulators.

ATX Microgravity



Mars Base 1 provides trainees with a chance to live on Mars for seven hours while performing base operations along with real science and engineering. Training begins with a trip to Mars through the 4-D Mars Transfer Theater. Upon arrival trainees enter the Operations Center to be trained in base operations using four different scenarios. Trainees also work in the Life Science Lab planting seeds, maintaining and harvesting plants, and collecting and analyzing data just like NASA scientists. Next stop is the engineering lab where trainees program a robot to clean a solar cell. Trainees develop an appetite from these activities and a Mars meal is provided before traveling back to Earth.

Both ATX and Mars Base 1 programs provide the opportunity to record your experience at a Video Log Station. Trainees access these recordings online and receive a report on performance from each component of the mission. Designed to be both authentic and fun, we are excited to offer these new experiences to visitors at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex!