Blast-Off Set for Lunar Space Museum

A massive Saturn V rocket is the centerpiece of a new $37-million museum devoted to NASA's Project Apollo, which put the first astronauts on the moon in 1969.

The museum, opening Tuesday at Florida's Kennedy Space Center, is about the size of the popular National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. Besides the 363-foot-long Saturn V, billed as the most powerful spacecraft ever built, it includes two theaters, mission artifacts and interactive displays.

One theater, called "The Firing Room," includes many of the launch consoles and countdown clocks used in lunar missions. About 400 visitors at each showing "experience" the launch of Apollo 8 on three screens, complete with rumbling of the rocket. A second theater takes visitors to the moon's surface via Apollo 11 and its lunar module.

Visitors can also view a lunar module, living quarters from the 1975 Apollo-Soyuz mission and other equipment. Exhibits look at the solar system, Mars exploration, future missions and other topics. The Apollo/Saturn V Center is reachable via tour buses that leave the Kennedy visitor center; $8 adults, $5 children 3-11, free under 3. Information: (407) 452-2121.

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