New England's Only Air and Space Science Center Opens March 6, 2009

CONCORD, NH – The McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center opens on March 6, 2009. With a Mercury-Redstone rocket at the front entry and a prominent observatory dome, New England's first air and space science center will make its home in Concord, NH, housing 45,000 square feet of new interactive science exhibits, an expanded gift shop, café, and theater space. The new Discovery Center is a major transformation of the Christa McAuliffe Planetarium. The first phase of this transformation comes after ten years of planning and development.

The McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center is a lively educational science center featuring 21st century interactive exhibits on aviation, astronomy, and Earth and space sciences, a state-of-the-art planetarium and a variety of science and engineering programs.

Educational programs are geared towards families, teens, seniors, students, community groups, and lifelong learners of all ages. The Discovery Center will also offer space for conferences and special events, and a NASA Educator Resource Center.

The 45,113 -square-foot science center, quadruple the size of the original Christa McAuliffe Planetarium, was designed by Dignard Architectural Services of New Boston, NH. The principal of the firm, Roger Dignard, was lead architect on the original planetarium building when he worked for Lavallee-Brenginger in Manchester, NH.

Visitors to the Discovery Center will be greeted by an outdoor 92-foot-tall Mercury-Redstone rocket. The interactive, multi-sensory exhibit surrounding it tells the story of New Hampshire hero Alan Shepard, his historic flight as the first American in space on May 5, 1961, and the story of the Space Race that inspired much of our current aerospace initiatives and high technology spin-offs.

The Discovery Center will constantly evolve. The completion of the first phase of development marks the beginning of the transformation. New simulation experiences and interactive exhibits will be added to the science center periodically over the coming months and years. Future additions include a Challenger Learning Center, simulated flight school, interactive exhibits and engaging programs on the physics of the universe, as well as traveling exhibits from science centers across North America.

The McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center honors the legacies of two New Hampshire heroes -- Christa McAuliffe and Alan Shepard -- and is a place for visitors to explore, discover, and be inspired. As the only air and space science center in New England it welcomes all ages to have fun while learning about the universe in which we live. The new McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center features 21st century interactive exhibits on aviation, astronomy, and Earth and space sciences, a state-of-the-art planetarium and a variety of engaging programs.

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