Nov 18, 2020 | Nathan Carter
The UAT is for You and Me!
The U.S. Space & Rocket Center was deeply affected by the pandemic this year, and for the first time in years, Space Camp hosted no groups after August. As we looked to our future, we renewed our efforts to provide a great experience for our museum guests; one that is as safe as it is unique. New opportunities were brainstormed and two such experiences emerged somewhat unexpectedly: aquatics. DIVR+ and SeaTREK are the newest experiences at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center and are offered in the heated Underwater Astronaut Trainer.
The UAT has historically provided a scuba experience to our Space Camp Advanced Academy students, but is now also an experience open to the public. After doing some research, we discovered a terrific way to get a guest into the UAT and allow them to experience what it might feel like to walk on the moon, Mars, or fly through space. DIVR+ and SeaTrek allow a guest walking through our museum a chance to get in the water and very quickly experience something new and exciting. We found that those with no experience in the underwater world can also quickly feel safe and confident enough to fly through space in our DIVR+ virtual reality, or descend to the bottom of our 24 ft. tank with a SeaTREK helmet.
DIVR+ is an immersive VR experience allowing a guest to stay on the surface and still get a feeling for what it might be like to fly through space. A guest wears a flotation belt that helps them stay on the surface and then uses a mask and snorkel in order to be fully immersed in whatever activity they have chosen. Prior swimming or snorkeling experience is not required as staff members instill confidence by teaching and assisting guests in the water. The activities take place on a four-ft. platform that allows guests to easily stand and to truly feel safe.
There are three different experiences including a space journey, a deep-sea dive, and flying through time with dragons. Once the chosen activity starts, guests are in for a treat! The space journey allows a glimpse of the International Space Station before zooming to Mars and beyond. If enthusiasts prefer a deep-sea dive with turtles and sharks, the coral reef experience is right up their ally. As guests finish looking at all the colors of the reef, they must watch out for the humpback whales they see swimming all around them. More of a fantasy aficionado? Look for the dragon experience where participants fly amongst cliff faces and stare down a dragon. All experiences are out-of-this-world memories just waiting to be made.
SeaTREK is another new UAT experience. Don a helmet and travel the 24 ft. distance to the bottom of the tank and feel the sensation for what it might be like to walk on the moon. Wear glasses? Not a problem! The helmet covers your entire head and sits on your shoulders, pumping three times the amount of air required to provide plenty of oxygen and keep the glass from fogging. Once the helmet is in place and you are ready to travel down the ladder, all you do is make sure to equalize your ears as you descend. At the bottom, a guide will take you through the activities such as shooting baskets with bowling balls, launching rockets and much more.
All these experiences help usher in a new and exciting time for the Rocket Center as we look at fresh ways to enhance the museum and guest experience. Each opportunity is unique and offers something for all ages. Prebook on our website and come give them a try!
Director of Mission Support – U.S. Space & Rocket Center
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