The Space & Beyond Blog
Explore the Space Exploration Collection
Former NASA astronaut Ellen Ochoa said that all space explorers share “the desire to participate in a voyage of discovery.” If you, too, have that desire, then the Space & Beyond Box’s Explore Space Collection has everything you need to embark on your own voyage of discovery, right at home. This unique collection of space exploration items has been curated especially for you by the staff at Astronomy magazine. Here’s a peek into the box to check out a few — but not all — the surprises that await you.
Astronaut food ice cream sandwich
When do astronauts eat? At launch time! And what do they get when they’ve cleared their plates? Exactly what you’re getting in your Space & Beyond Box: a tasty freeze-dried, ready-to-eat Neapolitan ice cream sandwich.
Freeze-dried space food goes all the way back to NASA’s earliest astronauts, who carried it in the Mercury and Gemini capsules. Like many aspects of the space program, the technology and techniques for preparing food for the astronauts to consume in space were new and largely untested, so NASA invested heavily in research in these areas. Today, those technologies are widely used, ensuring food can be kept safely for long periods of time without losing its nutritional value, structural integrity, or taste.
Although ice cream sandwiches were never actually part of any astronaut’s meal plan, they were developed specifically by NASA in 1973 for the visitor center at Ames Research Center in California. It takes a full 24 hours and temperatures of minus 40 degrees to freeze-dry ice cream. But the results, as you’ll discover, are absolutely delicious!
Our solar system is a big place, and humans have yet to personally explore beyond our moon. But that doesn’t mean we haven’t gone to some amazing places, thanks to the help of robotic spacecraft designed to go where we cannot. Now, you can learn about some of humanity’s most ambitious space missions with a set of 30 spacecraft flashcards included with the Space Exploration Collection that you won’t find anywhere else.
Each full-color, glossy 4″ x 6″ card features a gorgeous spacecraft image on the front and detailed information on the back. You’ll discover facts about each mission including launch date, mission status, worlds visited, parent space agency, and scientific legacy on every card. Featured missions include BepiColombo, Cassini, Voyager, Curiosity, Galileo, Dawn, Sputnik, Stardust, and New Horizons. All 30 cards fit neatly in the included box for safekeeping.
Martian regolith simulant
After the Moon, humanity’s next solar system destination is Mars. What will we find there? Well, we’ve got a pretty good idea, based on the data sent back by numerous spacecraft and rovers. In particular, NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover has painstakingly analyzed the soil it rolls over to teach scientists what exactly Mars is made of. Now, you’ll find out firsthand when you open your Space & Beyond Box to reveal your very own Mars regolith simulant sample.
This small, stoppered glass bottle contains material that may not be from Mars itself, but mirrors exactly what you’d find on the surface of the Red Planet. Simulants such as this allow researchers to not only better understand conditions on distant worlds, but also test out equipment or even crop growing methods in preparation for manned missions.
Included with your sample is an information card listing the precise chemical composition of the soil simulant, down to the smallest percent. Shake some out into your palm and rest assured, you’re holding a handful of the same material the first astronauts to reach Mars will encounter when they step off their spacecraft.
Space shuttle Atlantis model
When the space shuttle Columbia launched for the first time on April 12, 1981, it marked the beginning the United States’ Space Shuttle Program. Four more orbiters were ultimately brought into service as part of the 30-year-long mission — including Atlantis, also called OV-104. Over the course of its service lifetime, which lasted nearly 26 years, Atlantis made a total of 33 trips to space and flew more than 125 million miles. Its final landing on July 21, 2011, marked the very last space shuttle mission ever flown.
Now on display at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, you won’t find the actual space shuttle Atlantis in your Space & Beyond Box. But you will find your very own highly detailed diecast metal model of this famous orbiter at 1:300 scale. Officially licensed by Boeing, this Postage Stamp Collection model includes the shuttle and a display stand, so you can show off this amazing tribute to human ingenuity and the spirit of exploration anywhere you like.