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rocket and walk on a virtual Mars environment. The Smithsonian-affiliated museum in Texas, celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2017,


Mission Mars O


New at Space Center Houston


ffering an immersive experience all about the red planet, the new Mission Mars exhibit at Space Center Houston gives guests an opportunity to peer inside an Orion spacecraft research model, stand close to a giant model


has enjoyed a spate of recent success. Independence Plaza, which opened in January 2016, helped the venue reach a record annual attendance of over one million and captured two IAAPA Brass Ring Awards last November. JRA, which oversaw the creation of that project, is again provided planning, design and project management for Mission Mars.


The new multi-million-dollar interactive exhibit, designed with input from NASA


experts, features a stunning 4K video showing a virtual Mars landscape with rovers exploring the planet, a rocket launching from Earth and heading for Mars and also an Orion simulator that puts visitors in the astronaut’s seat and allows them to record their own “historic” messages as they take their first steps on Mars. Touchscreen activities provide an additional opportunity to explore the planet, suit up an astronaut and pack for the long trip, while a collection of three rare Mars meteorites is on display inside the exhibit for a limited time, together with a Mars rock visitors can touch. The exhibit also shows how resources will be conserved and what techniques will be used to grow fresh food to sustain astronauts and reduce payload. “This new major exhibit will inspire the next generation of explorers who could one


day walk on Mars,” says Space Center Houston president and CEO, William T Harris. “Visitors will explore what it takes to travel to Mars, the hardware that will get us to the fourth planet in our solar system and how humans may live and conduct research on the red planet in future decades.” Financial support towards the new exhibit was provided by NASA’s Office of Education and also Lockheed Martin, which supplied the Orion capsule research model featured. Space Center Houston is holding a jubilee celebration all year to honour its quarter century milestone.


Funky Town expands


The Kazakhstan-based family entertainment centre (FEC) operator EMC recently opened two new outlets, one in Almaty and the other in Moscow. As with three previous FEC projects, the company partnered with Embed Card to provide a cashless payment system in use on all games and large rides/attractions. EMC began developing FECs in 2007, initially opening locations of 500 to 700


sq m. Today it has seven outlets in Kazakhstan alone, some over 2,000 sq m in size and with more than 100 games and attractions. The new Moscow location opened March 1 and like others in the Funky Town chain (funkytown.kz) was designed and masterplanned by Amusement Services International. “Funky Town is a chain of quality FECs in the region,” notes Embed’s director of


new business development, Andrea Bisi. “The management has long experience, solid development projects and a clear vision in their operation style. It is a pleasure to work with themt to bring their chain to the next level.”


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