Discovery Center debuts Astronaut Academy exhibit

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Posted October 9, 2020 | Staff Report

The Discovery Center’s newest exhibit, Astronaut Academy, opened last week and will remain on display until Jan. 2.

Astronaut Academy is a hands-on exhibit with activities that introduce kids to space travel and experiments.

According to Discovery Center officials, visitors navigate their way through a space station module, control a remote Mars rover, build and launch their own rockets, view an authentic moon rock – courtesy of NASA – and more.

Discovery Center partnered with National Informal STEM Education Network (NISE), NASA, and Lockheed Martin to showcase the ideas, engineering and even the art that goes into the study and exploration of space.

The exhibit is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays. Updated sessions will be posted on the Discovery Center website. General admission to the Discovery Center is $8 per person or $28 for a family of four. Annual memberships are also available for individuals and families.

Star Lab Planetarium shows are held at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. Saturdays by group reservation only due to COVID-19.

Discovery Center staff will be implementing increased cleaning protocols for the facility. Hands-on manipulatives will be sanitized with appropriate cleaners during periods of high traffic and following each two-hour session. The Discovery Center will close at 4 p.m. on Saturdays and 4:30 p.m. throughout the week to undergo deep cleaning. Use of UV light will be implemented to sanitize the planetarium, and UV sanitization has been installed in Discovery Center air handlers.

Items that are not easily sanitized have been removed or replaced. Hand sanitizer stations are available in all areas of the facility.

Astronaut Academy is sponsored by Ocala Electric Utility, Discovery Center Foundation, Marion Rotary Duck Derby, with special thanks to Lockheed Martin and NASA’s Johnson Space Center.

For more information, call 352-401-3900 or visit

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