21170 N 83rd Ave
Peoria, AZ 85382
Open 7 days a week (closed holidays), 10 a.m.—4 p.m.
Sharing a lot with Sunrise Mountain High School in Peoria is the Challenger Space Center, a nonprofit science and learning center, and a real hidden-gem of a space museum. The Center, one of 46 such facilities operating in the United States, has been in operation since July 2000. Named in honor of the ill-fated Space Shuttle Challenger, the center has a stated mission to “inspire, excite, and educate people of all ages about the mysteries and wonders of space, science and the universe in which we live.”
Visitors may explore the facility at their own pace, or take advantage of a guided tour. Current exhibits include a meteorite collection on extended loan from ASU, a collection of objects flown in space, and a 42 inch, 225 pound tire formerly part of Space Shuttle Discovery. The center also features the PlayMotion ™ “My Solar System” exhibit, an interactive projection screen that allows visitors to reach out and grab celestial bodies. For more ornery patrons, I can provide assurances that this state-of-the-art technology responds to head-butts and dropkicks as well.
Perhaps the most unique activity the center offers is a simulated space mission. After a briefing, individuals use teamwork and technology to solve problems, working either as astronauts aboard a space vessel, or in the adjoining Mission Control (separated by a working air lock!). Missions are available to the public, for fieldtrips, and for corporate team building events. Check the center’s official web site.
Don’t forget to grab some freeze-dried ice cream from the gift shop to enjoy on the ride home. Remember: traditional ice cream melts, and smoothies spill, but freeze dried Rocky Road is completely mess free. You’ll get used to the crunch.
More information about ticket prices, exhibits and membership available at: