Domes on Mars-US Space and Rocket Center

  • See what life is like on Mars, the Moon, and the International Space Station
  • Spend a week in the Mars Base domes when you join a camp at the Us Space and Rocket Center
  • Experience living in two 16 foot domes with five other team members

If you like space travel and science, you will love the new Mars Base exhibit at The U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama. This museum showcases rockets, achievements, and artifacts of the U.S. space program.  Just imagine living in a dome on Mars as an astronaut going about your daily routine. The Space Camp programs offered here simulate missions to the Moon, Mars and the International Space Station. Participants sign up for a week long space camp and must be between the ages  of 9-18, however there is an exhibit walkway that offers visibility into the Mars Base to the public.

U.S. Space Camp gives an in-depth exposure to the space program through participant use of simulators, lectures, and training exercises. Pacific Domes had the pleasure of interviewing Robin Soprano, Director- Space Camp Mission Support to see how two 16 foot domes make life on Mars possible.

shelter dome, space dome, mars dome
Advanced Academy trainees working in the Mars Base dome

Pacific Domes: What are the domes used for?

Robin: The domes serve as the Mars base or habitat in our Space Camp Mars mission.  In the mission scenario we use with our Advanced Academy (high school age) trainees (that’s what we call Campers because NASA calls astronauts in training trainees), they are the first inhabitants of this new base.  We’ve been to Mars in prior expeditions but this is a new base that dropped on the surface for them.  For our camp teams of 16 participants, some of their crew would be located in Mission Control here on Earth, some are on an orbiting station located on Phobos, a moon of Mars.  The remainder of the crew launches on top of a SLS rocket and lands on Mars to setup this base.

Pacific Domes: From the photos it looks like one dome is used for growing food, the other for working, is that right? 

Robin: Yes, basically it’s their living and work space.  Crew members will go about their tasks of daily living.  There are aeroponic growing systems for food production, science work stations, a medical station, a rover station, kitchenette and sleep stations.

shelter dome, space dome, mars dome
The Mars Base domes are used for both daily living and work space

Pacific Domes: Why are space suits needed inside the dome?

Robin: At the beginning of the mission, suits are necessary as they power up and pressurize the base.  Once this is complete, they are able to remove their suits.

Pacific Domes: How many astronauts would occupy these two 16 foot domes in a Mars simulation?

Robin: During this mission scenario, there are six of the crew on Mars.

shelter dome, space dome, mars dome
Aerial grow towers and work stations as seen from the outside of Mars Base dome

Pacific Domes: Is this a mars simulation?

Robin: Yes, in our Space Camp programs we conduct several types of mission simulations.  We have three space shuttles and two Orion capsules.  We simulate missions to the Moon, Mars and the International Space Station.  We have a variety of missions we can run that are age appropriate for each camp.  We offer weeklong programs for ages 9-11, 12-14 and 15-18.  We additionally offer weekend camps for Educators, Families and Adults.  If none of that works, we also have abbreviated 1,2 or 3 day programs that many school and scout groups attend.  We run camp about 50 weeks per year.

Astronaut Lockers
Astronaut Lockers

Pacific Domes: How will the public interact with Mars Base?

Robin: Our missions are conducted in our Mission Center Complex (MCC) with Space Camp participants. However, there is a public exhibit walkway that offers visibility into the Mission space.

Pacific Domes: How long will this display be installed?

Robin: Our Mars base is considered to be a permanent installation. We are ever evolving so who knows what it could be in the future!

Pacific Domes: Would you like to add anything?

Robin: We are just coming back online with this mission with students this week.  We are thrilled!

US Space and Rocket Center
US Space and Rocket Center