I began checking out the new Spaceflight Museum in Second Life this weekend, and I have to say that I am totally blown away. For an old space-nerd like me, it’s a dream come true. (For perspective, the teeny-tiny purple dot on the orange staging platform is my avatar.)
Just opened this Sunday, The Spaceflight Museum is located on the Spaceport Alpha sim. The main attraction is an immense ring of built-to-scale rockets, detailed re-creations of historic space vessels from around the world. Plaques in front of each rocket link to descriptions, their use, history, and URLs for more information. You could spend an hour or so just perusing the fifty-some rockets on display.
But that’s just the beginning. In the center of the ring of rockets is a small floating platform with a small-scale model of the solar system. And this isn’t just a passive display — if you standing near it and say a date, like say, "July 3, 1969" (my birthday), the planets re-align into their configuration on that date! So nifty.
The coolest exhibit that I have seen so far though is a series of observation decks simulating the planets of the solar system up close. You start off looking down on the earth from a platform in near orbit. The image is an actual photo of the earth taken by US astronauts. From there you can teleport around the solar system, getting a close-up view of Mars, Venus, Neptune and the asteroid belt.
Upon "returning to Earth" I decided to take a picture of myself atop one of the larger rockets on display. Just as I was getting set up, one of the Spaceflight Museum designers Kat Lemieux flew up to say hi. We chatted for a bit about the museum and all the work involved in creating it. She mentioned that the museum had already been demo’ed at two real life conferences.
There’s a few other parts of the museum that I didn’t get to play with. I’ll be checking them out tonight or tomorrow. Clearly there’s a lot of potential for this museum in education and research. Definitely one of the coolest places I’ve visited in Second Life so far.