June 10, 2004
His body may have been planted firmly on earth, but his hands were in outer space.
With the help of large black gloves thrust into a zero-gravity vacuum box, 12-year-old Marcus Thompson experienced the world of an astronaut Wednesday.
"It would be fun to be in space, with no gravity," he said afterward. "I would try to do 12 back flips."
The north Mesa boy was among 50 children from the Lehigh branch of the Scottsdale Boys and Girls Club invited to walk through the Arizona Science Center’s new international space station exhibit.
The students from Scottsdale, Mesa and the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community got a sneak peak at the exhibit before it opens to the public Saturday.
Linda Kewanimptewa, 10, of the Salt River community, stared in awe at the life-size replicas of sleeping quarters — where astronauts and cosmonauts sleep standing up in zero gravity. The kitchen includes silverware stuck to the walls with Velcro and all food except the peanut butter, apples and pudding is dry-sealed.
"It would be fun to float around in the air," said Megan Ross, 9, of Lehigh.
Students took turns standing in a practice pod for astronaut training, and then sat in a space shuttle replica for a take-off drill. Since Monday, the east wing of the third floor had begun to resemble the space station, complete with solar panels.
Students took home digital photos of themselves dressed as astronauts. National Aeronautics and Space Administration scientist Bill Carswell showed video of the station and experiments.
When completed in 2006, the space station will be the second largest object in the night sky — next to the moon. Russia continues to send international scientists to research life in space and to finish its construction.
The exhibit is on display until Jan. 9 at the Arizona Science Center, 600 E. Washington St., Phoenix. For information about tickets for the exhibit, as well as a related 45-minute planetarium show about living in space, call (602) 716-2000 or visit www.azscience.org.