Lonely Planet Writer

Prepare for life on Mars with a new astronaut training experience in Florida

 Outer space is the one destination that remains stubbornly hard to get to even for the most dedicated of travellers. Would-be explorers of the cosmos can however, enjoy the next best thing at a new astronaut training experience in Florida.

Space Shuttle Atlantis Orbiter. Image by Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

The new attraction at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex near Orlando even lets visitors imagine what a trip to our nearest planetary neighbour Mars would be like. Participants will get to relive The Martian with a simulated voyage to the Red Planet that will train them how to live and work in its incredibly harsh environment. The new Mars Base 1 will let them live as “rookie astronauts” working on base operations as well as science experiments and engineering jobs.

The exterior of the Space Shuttle Atlantis. Image by Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

Among the jobs are fixing solar panels to restore power to the Martian base and working in a botany lab analysing how Earth’s vegetables and plants might grow there. Therrin Protze, chief operating officer of the complex, said: “We’re offering something that most people thought they would never get to do in their lifetime.

Inside the astronaut training experience. Image by Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

“For anyone who has wondered what it would be like to feel like an astronaut, to train like they train, face the challenges and issues they have to work through while under extreme pressure, Astronaut Training Experience and Mars Base 1 is now available to everyone.”

Saturn V rocket and engine bells. Image by Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

Visitors will get to do some of the same physical tasks as astronauts including a simulator of landing and driving on Mars. They can also enjoy virtual reality simulations of walking on Mars as well as spacewalk training. The new additions to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex can be enjoyed for less than an hour as part of a regular visit, or on two, three, or five-day camps for those looking for something more intense. While there, visitors can also enjoy the regular attractions including the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame, a Saturn V moon rocket, and the Shuttle Launch Experience.