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Space Foundation’s Discovery Center to house new 3D printing lab

The center is set to reopen in April 2024, after the $3 million expansion and renovation that will also feature a new 'drone zone'

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According to The Gazette, the Space Foundation’s Discovery Center is undergoing a $3 million expansion and renovation, featuring a new ‘drone zone’ and a 3D printing lab, and is set to reopen in spring. These additions, along with enhancements to the Mars Robotics Laboratory and the Science on a Sphere exhibit, aim to deepen visitors’ understanding of space exploration.

A highlight of the renovation is the new 3D printing lab, where visitors will learn about additive manufacturing’s crucial role in creating space-worthy components. The lab’s expansion will enable more interactive and hands-on learning experiences in this field.

The drone zone is another innovative feature – designed to simulate the experience of flying in environments with different atmospheric and gravitational conditions, akin to piloting NASA’s Ingenuity drone on Mars.

Space Foundation's Discovery Center to house new 3D printing lab thanks to a $3 million expansion and renovation.
Image credit: Gabi Broekema, The Gazette.

Heather Pringle, CEO of the Space Foundation, emphasized the remodel’s purpose: to foster interest and knowledge in space, a rapidly growing economic sector. The center aims to inspire students to consider diverse careers in space-related fields, from science and engineering to roles in finance, publicity, and art. The initiative comes at a critical time, as the retirement of baby boomers and a decline in college enrollment present challenges to the space workforce. The center is addressing this by providing educational resources and virtual access to exhibits for those unable to visit in person.

Community outreach is also a key focus. The center aims to increase in-person visits significantly in the five years following its reopening, building on a decade-long history that attracted 300,000 visitors.

Space Foundation's Discovery Center to house new 3D printing lab thanks to a $3 million expansion and renovation.
Image credit: Gabi Broekema, The Gazette.

The Space Force’s presence in Colorado Springs, where the center is located, contributes to its educational mission. Many visitors are children of Space Force members, and the center offers experiences like satellite piloting simulations to connect them with their parents’ work. Volunteer involvement, particularly from the military community, plays a vital role at the center. To support the renovation, the Space Foundation is raising funds, with contributions from individuals, foundations, and companies.

While the Discovery Center is set to reopen in April, its connection to the community continues through various events and initiatives, like the Audience with an Astronaut online series, offering interactive educational content.

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