Life, the Universe and Everything in Two Hours
That’s about as long as it takes to go from the Big Bang, when the Universe came into being, to “infinity and beyond” as mankind uncovers the mysteries of outer space. It’s all entertainingly presented at the Euro Space Center at Transinne in Luxembourg Province, where the star attractions are full-size replicas of the US Space Shuttle and a Belgian-built laboratory on the European Space Observatory. On the Shuttle, you’re shown around both the cockpit and the cargo bay, with English-speaking guides to explain the myriad control panels.
There’s a lot to be learnt on the standard two-hour trip, but in common with so many Wallonian attractions there are plenty of hands-on opportunities where you can experience aspects of space travel as if you were a real astronaut. One contraption shows you what it feels like to walk on the surface of the moon (making a monkey of you in the process, to the great amusement of the gallery), while another replicates the giddying experience of being spun round in a space capsule as it re-enters the earth’s atmosphere at about ten times the speed of sound. While you’re dealing with being upside-down and tossed about every which way, they expect you to do some vital calculations to ensure you land safely! You emerge, somewhat unsteadily, with a deeper appreciation of what the pioneering spacemen achieved.
Those who stay longer can do some serious role-playing at a mock-up mission control as they simulate a lunar landing or the launch of a satellite, or they can build their own rocket in a workshop – and test it outside to see if it flies. Also in the open air, there’s a model of the solar system the size of a football pitch, and a 6km spacewalk. Now in its twentieth year, the Space Center has proved especially popular with British visitors.
As well as being great fun, the centre aims to educate children about space, the planets, and the stars and also runs special programmes for schools.