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TECH SPACE
New Cosmodome brings new focus on virtual space exploration
by Staff Writers
Laval, Canada (SPX) Nov 30, 2011


Sylvain Belair, Cosmodome's Executive Director; Michelle Courchesne, Minister responsible for Government Administration, Chair of the conseil du tresor and Minister responsible for the Laval region; and Gilles Vaillancourt, Mayor of Laval; at the news conference launching the new Cosmodome. (CNW Group/Cosmodome).

The Cosmodome's transformation will soon be completed, making it a centre that will stimulate interest in space adventure and spark enthusiasm for space. On December 15, it will open the door to a new and unusual concept: a virtual experience of space and methods of space exploration. Unique in Canada, this museum dedicated to astronautics will present three interactive space missions that are scientific, educational and entertaining.

During their 60-minute virtual experience, visitors will take part in a mission of their choice: reliving the conquest of the Moon, embarking on the perilous journey to Mars, or discovering the mysteries of the cosmos by launching a probe.

Everything has been designed to immerse the participants in a space station atmosphere. Most of the Cosmodome has been transformed to accommodate a boarding platform that leads to 17 futuristic modules, where the visitors can take part in scenarios that provide a wealth of information and interaction.

This new concept was developed in association with gsmprcto, a firm with cutting-edge expertise in audiovisual, interactive and multimedia museum technologies.

The redevelopment of the program for the museum portion of the Cosmodome was launched in 2009, with extensive prior planning by the centre's management.

It was completed within the projected budget of $10.5 million, which included grants of $7 million from the Government of Quebec and $3.5 million from the Ville de Laval, owner of the Cosmodome building and the land on which it sits.

In addition to the three virtual space missions, the Cosmodome has also updated its permanent exhibition of artefacts from the conquest of space and still offers its Space Camp for budding astronauts.

"The Cosmodome has been updated to reflect advances in space exploration and new museum practices that will capture the interest of our primary target audience: visitors aged nine to 15, who are fascinated by anything experiential. Of course, we are also targeting families, school groups and even corporate groups.

The images, anecdotes and scientific facts presented and the virtual experiences the participants will enjoy have been validated by a scientific committee. With the introduction of this new concept, we intend to double our attendance in 2012 and have set ourselves a goal of more than 150,000 visitors," said Sylvain Belair, the Cosmodome's Executive Director.

Michelle Courchesne, Minister responsible for Government Administration, Chair of the conseil du tresor and Minister responsible for the Laval region, was delighted with her government's support for the transformation of the Cosmodome: "The Quebec government is proud to have supported this original transformation, the only one of its kind in Canada.

"We hope it will spark an interest in space and science among its young visitors. The Cosmodome is very important for Quebec, from both a recreotourism and educational perspective.

"The province is home to one of the world's largest aerospace clusters, and several of its companies make a significant contribution to space exploration."

Innovation and 'democratization' of space exploration
Laval's Mayor, Gilles Vaillancourt, stressed the scientific innovation deployed at the new Cosmodome: "The Cosmodome introduces innovation and is positioned as a high-level museum that will 'democratize' space exploration and make it literally accessible to everyone.

"It promises to become a world-class scientific recreotourism destination and will spearhead recreotourism in the Laval region. This is a remarkable contribution to the youth of Laval and young people from all over."

Canadian Astronaut David Saint-Jacques took part in the news conference via video. He was one of the jury members for the Cosmoclub Contest to select the first young crew to participate in the Red Planet virtual mission.

Their experience will take place on December 3 during the Journee nationale des Debrouillards, an event organized by the CLSM, the Conseil pour la Releve Scientifique (Conseil du loisir scientifique de la region metropolitaine), at the Cosmodome.

The Cosmodome is Canada's only museum dedicated to the understanding of space exploration. It is recognized as one of five metropolitan recreotourism facilities in Greater Montreal. The Cosmodome seeks to be an educational reference and to stimulate interest in scientific culture, space sciences and astronautics among visitors of all ages, from here and further afield. Visitors can take part in three educational interactive missions that will make them travel and literally live space.

The Cosmodome also features a permanent exhibition of artefacts of space travel as well as the Yuri Gagarin Documentation Centre. They can also attend Space Camp, a franchise of the US Space Camp, for apprentice astronauts. The Cosmodome offers a series of workshops, activities and events for the general public, and school and corporate groups.

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