08 April 2008

Shuttle Launch Experience - definitive story

This is an article I wrote for the March 08 issue of Sound & Communications magazine, and I like to think it is the definitive portrait of Shuttle Launch Experience, a unique new attraction at Kennedy Space Center that uses motion simulation in a pared-down and unprecedented way. Here are the opening paragraphs. Click the title link to see the full article and photos, and the AV equipment list. -JR

The picture to the right shows the simulator mockup built to test the concept. Image courtesy Frank Weigand of The Wheel Thing.

Tasting Space at Kennedy Space Center:
One-Dof = Zero Gravity at Shuttle Launch Experience
By Judith Rubin

Buzz Aldrin was among the three dozen astronauts who showed up at Kennedy Space Center (KSC) to ride the new Shuttle Launch Experience (SLE) on opening day. The $60 million, 44,000-square-foot visitor attraction at Cape Canaveral FL blends showmanship with simulation to give visitors an authentic taste of what it is like to ride a NASA space shuttle. Over a period of about 25 minutes, they become passengers on the shuttle, passing through a sequence of experiential theaters that provide the sensations, sounds and sights of liftoff, acceleration and weightlessness, capped by a breathtaking view of planet Earth looking much as she does to genuine shuttle astronauts when they’re really up there.

After exiting the simulator modules, visitors wind down at their own pace among a series of educational displays about space travel and the NASA shuttle program. This attraction recently received a Thea Award for Outstanding Achievement from TEA (Themed Entertainment Association).

Shuttle Launch Experience was conceived, designed and creative-directed by BRC Imagination Arts, in association with NASA-KSC and Delaware North Companies, Parks and Resorts. BRC produced the media, special effects and graphics for the attraction. The extensive BRC team included Paul Redding (project manager), Chuck Roberts (creative director/production designer) and Josh Cottrell (show systems manager). BRC founder, CEO and chief creative officer Bob Rogers, a recipient of the NASA public service medal, originated the concept and story, and was closely involved with the project from start to finish... [click title link to see full story and pictures]