Space Mission Simulator

The Challenger Learning Center’s Space Mission Simulator offers visitors the next best thing to actual space flight with a NASA-inspired Mission Control room and an orbiting space station modeled after the laboratory on the International Space Station. During a space mission, team members work as scientists and engineers.

Onboard astronauts in the Space Station Simulator work with their counterparts in the Mission Control Simulator to fly one of our simulated space missions. These simulations provide plenty of challenges for the crews in space and on the ground. From kindergartners to adults, Space Mission Simulations are excellent for field trips, birthday parties, corporate team building, family reunions and much more!

Planning Your Visit

Our Space Mission Simulations can accomodate up to 18 people and last 1.5 hours. Each mission is $300. We also offer Virtual Mission Simulations to Europa that can accomodate 8 – 24 participants for $150.

To book your mission, please fill out the request form linked below. For additional questions contact our sales coordinator at


The Tiny Explorers program is for our early learners ages 3-5. Two programs are available: Space themed activities and viewing One World, One Sky in our Downtown Digital Dome or Light and shadow activities and viewing In My Backyard in our Downtown Digital Dome. You can choose between a two hour program at the CLC that features hands-on activities and the dome show ($10 per students, $200 minimum for up to 40 students) or our off-site program where we come to you. The off-site option features one and a half hours of hands-on activities and demonstrations and each student will also receive a ticket to come see a show in our Downtown Digital Dome ($15 student, $200 minimum for up to 40 students)!


The Space Mission Simulator is the perfect setting for students to suspend their disbelief and travel to space. During the K-1 “Mars Explorer” mission students use simple words and pictures to achieve their mission. The “Asteroid Explorer” mission for 2nd and 3rd graders uses beginner reading vocabulary and easy to follow directions. Fourth graders become “Comet Explorers” and have a blast doing hands-on activities and working in space. All missions include standards-aligned STEM activities. All programs feature a grade-level appropriate planetarium show with a “pre-show” presented by one of our instructors in the Downtown Digital Dome.

In all missions, on-board astronauts in the spacecraft simulator conduct science experiments related to a space theme. A two-hour program for up to 44 students is $350 and includes 30 minutes in the spacecraft simulator, one 30 minute hands-on activity and a planetarium show.  A three-hour program for up to 66 students is $500 and includes 40 minutes in the spacecraft simulator, two additional hands-on activities and a planetarium show.


NEW! Moon Explorers (K – 5th grade)

Go forward to the Moon in our new Moon Explorers mission highlighting the Artemis Program of 2024. During the mission, students will blast off to the Moon and conduct hands-on science experiments in our spacecraft simulator.

Kindergartners and first graders program Ozobots to perform tasks on the Moon. A paper model build of the Space Launch System is included in the 3-hour program.

Second and third graders program Sphero robots to perform tasks on the Moon. A paper model build of the Space Launch System is included in the 3-hour program.

Fourth and fifth graders experience a space science demonstration. A lunar geology activity is included in the 3-hour program.

NEW! Mars Explorers (K – 1st grade)

During the spacecraft simulation, students blast off from the “Red Planet”  and launch into space and complete science experiments before launching CubeSats to the moons of Mars. A paper model build of the Space Launch System is included in the 3-hour program.


Asteroid Explorers (2nd – 3rd grade)

Modeled after NASA’s Osiris-Rex mission to the asteroid Bennu, students travel to the asteroid to collect a sample using the TAGSAM (Touch and Go Sample Arm Mechanism). The mission includes a paper model build of the  Atlas V rocket used in the mission. A model TAGSAM build is available in the 3-hour program.


Comet Explorers (4th – 5th grade)

Comet Explorers honor the Challenger 51L crew and continue their mission to study Comet Halley. In the spacecraft, student astronauts build and launch a probe to gather data on the comet. Problem solving skills are necessary, as new events occur that can change the mission. A space science demonstration is included. A LEGO build of a Saturn V rocket model is included in the 3-hour program.


NEW! Artemis Explorers (6th grade and up)

Become an astronaut on the upcoming Artemis VII mission! Blast off from Kennedy Space Center Launch Complex 39B onboard the Space Launch System and work together as a team to safely deliver the Habitable Mobility Platform to the lunar surface. Emergencies may occur that require teamwork and critical thinking. The 2-hour program includes a Dynamic Demo. The 3-hour program includes a Dynamic Demo and a gyroscope build.



The Space Mission Simulator offers the next best thing to actual space flight with a Mission Control room and an orbiting Spacecraft laboratory. During a simulation, students work together as astronauts, scientists and engineers to complete one of four scenarios outlined below. What seems to be a routine exploration becomes filled with exciting challenges and emergencies.

A two-hour mission (flown in both Mission Control and Spacecraft) is $400 for up to 32 students and includes teacher in-service training, classroom curriculum materials and follow-up activities. One-hour mini-missions are available for $250 for up to 16 students that are flown in the Spacecraft.


Rendezvous with a Comet (5th Grade)

Embark on a mission to Rendezvous with Comet Encke and send a probe to gather data on the comet.  Students use their problem solving skills to determine if the mission should continue as planned or if a different course is necessary. 



Return to the Moon (6th Grade)

For the first time since 1972, a crew of astronauts is returning to the moon. Their mission is to establish a permanent base for Earth observation and determine whether off-Earth settlements are possible. Teams work together and ensure a safe lunar arrival. Sponsored locally by Shell. 



Expedition Mars (8th Grade and up)

Set in the future when humans have established mission control on the Martian Moon Phobos, spacecraft astronauts are on a mission to the surface of Mars to search for water and evidence of life. The astronauts find themselves in a high-risk situation and must work together to solve the problems and complete the mission.


Photo Credit: Bow Stern Marketing Communications

Space travel is for all ages at the Challenger Learning Center! Become engineers and astronauts in our Mission Control room designed after NASA Johnson Space Center and an orbiting space station modeled after the laboratory on the International Space Station. Adult group missions are great for church groups, neighborhood associations, sororities & fraternities, business teams or other civic groups.

Looking for a unique and fun way to boost employee communication, teamwork and problem-solving skills?
Bring your team to the Challenger Learning Center where crew members work as scientists and engineers to fly a simulated space mission in our space station lab and mission control room. The missions are tailored to meet the specific needs of your group.

  • Up to 32 adults (2 hours) – $400
  • Mini-Mission: Up to 16 adults (1 hour) – $250

Extend your experience by renting one of our facilities or add on IMAX or Planetarium shows!


It is the year 2042, astronauts traveled from Earth to Jupiter in a space station equipped with a vehicle that will travel to Jupiter’s moon of Europa to launch a probe into the ice moon. Its goal is to dive deep into the massive water ocean underneath the ice sheets studied by the Europa Clipper in the 2020s. The salty ocean contains more water than all the Earth’s oceans combined! Due to an emergency, Mission Control is closed, and we are going to take the lessons learned from the 2020 pandemic on how to work remotely by having a remote Mission Control to finish the mission. You have been chosen as a member of the remote Mission Control crew to manage the astronaut. You will keep the astronaut safe from dangers such as radiation, guide them to the proper location, determine the impact location for the probe, to launch the probe into its depths, and analyze data from the probe. What is hidden in the ocean? Life? It is your job to find out!


Cost: $150 – includes virtual mission for both brick and mortar and virtual learners as well as pre and post materials. To have CLC staff conduct the virtual mission in your classroom, classrooms will be charged an additional $50 if within a 20 mile radius. If outside the 20 mile radius, additional fees may apply. For an additional $150, students can participate in a learning lab highlighting the results found in the mission as well as a life science lesson about characteristics of life and what NASA looks for to determine if life exists elsewhere in our Solar System. 

Duration: ~45 minutes

Number of participants: 8-24
Grades: 5th – 8th

Mission Control

The Mission Control component of the Space Mission Simulator is located on the first floor of the Challenger Learning Center and is designed to look and feel like Mission Control at Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. The “engineers” working in Mission Control must complete their tasks, share information with their “astronaut” classmates in Space Station and direct the “astronauts” to their next task. Most importantly, the “engineers” in Mission Control must maintain constant contact with the “astronauts” aboard Space Station.

Space Station Laboratory

The Space Station component of the Space Mission Simulator is located on the second floor of the Challenger Learning Center and is modeled after the laboratory on the International Space Station. The “astronauts” working in the laboratory node of the Space Station must complete their tasks, share information with their “engineer” classmates in Mission Control and consult with each other to decide on how best to accomplish the goal of the mission. These overall goals vary, depending on which type of mission the class is participating in.

Mission Patches

Schools that participate in the Space Mission Simulator create a unique Mission Patch that is displayed during their mission. Mission Patches are usually emblems designed and worn by astronauts and people affiliated with a mission and typically depict an image associated with the mission. Below are Mission Patches from previous schools that have visited our center.

2023 Mission Patches