There are a lot of great attractions that you can enjoy on a Kansas vacation, and they include the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center, which can be found in the city of Hutchinson. The Cosmosphere in Kansas was founded in 1962, and in its early days it was little more than a planetarium that was situated on the Kansas Sate Fairgrounds. By the late 1970s, the original planetarium had attracted enough visitors to cause its board of directors to consider expansion. In 1980, the one-time planetarium became the Kansas Cosmosphere and Discovery Center. Hutchinson visitors can still enjoy planetarium shows at the center, but there's plenty more to see and do here as well. You can easily fill a few hours when enjoying the Cosmosphere Kansas experience, and there's even an IMAX theater at the complex should you want to catch a movie on the side.
The Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center Museum is among the center's highlights, and it's been expanded over time to handle its impressive collection. This museum houses the country's second-largest collection of U.S. space artifacts. Only the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington D.C. has more U.S. space artifacts on display. On a visit to the Cosmosphere Kansas Museum, you can gain unbiased insight into the Space Race of the past and learn more about rocketry and space exploration on a whole. The exhibits here trace the history of rocketry and space exploration from the beginning on up to modern times.
In addition to housing the second-largest collection of U.S. space artifacts in the country, the Cosmosphere in Kansas also houses the largest collection of Soviet space artifacts outside of Moscow. A Russian Vostok space capsule is among the Soviet space artifacts, and you can also check out some Russian spacesuits, among other things. American spacesuits are also on display, so you can compare and contrast. Among the other interesting things that you'll see at the Cosmosphere Kansas Museum include the Emmy Award that the Apollo 8 mission earned for its 1968 broadcasts and a command module from the Apollo 13 space mission. Artifacts like these help to make a Cosmosphere Kansas visit so worth it, and you're encourage to plan a visit even if you're spending most of your time in nearby Wichita or in one of the Kansas cities that is even farther away, such as Dodge City.
The Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center isn't only known for its excellent museum. It's also a popular place for field trips and family outings, and the camps here certainly get a lot of positive attention. Aspiring astronauts of all ages will enjoy the Cosmosphere Kansas camps, and they are ideal for budding scientists and engineers as well. There are camps at the Cosmosphere in Kansas that cater to elementary school kids, middle school and high school students, and adults as well. Typically, the camps involve staying overnight few at least a few nights, and they carry different themes that help to make them age-appropriate. The Investigate Space camp for younger kids, for example, sees the youngsters enjoying activities that include constructing a solar system mobile and exploring the solar system from a command center. For adults, on the other hand, trying to fly the Falcon space shuttle simulator is among the camp activities. Don't be upset if you have trouble flying the Falcon simulator, as NASA astronauts themselves have been known to struggle with it.
The Cosmosphere Kansas planetarium is not to be missed during your visit, and there are some other neat attractions at the center that are worth your time. The multimedia planetarium shows last about 45 minutes, and they are included in the ticket price if you buy an All-Day Mission Pass. This pass also allows you to enjoy an IMAX film, explore Dr. Goddard's Lab, and visit the Hall of Space Museum. For those who might not know, Dr. Goddard is considered to be the pioneer of modern rocketry. If you don't have time to enjoy everything that the Cosmosphere in Kansas has to offer, you can purchase Single Venue tickets, which allow you to enjoy one of the center's main attractions. Should you be looking to include a Cosmosphere and Space Center visit in your Kansas vacation plans, the center is open daily, though the hours do fluctuate according to season. The summertime, Christmas Break, and Spring Break hours for the center are from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and Noon to 8 p.m. on Sunday. Regular spring, winter, and fall hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and Noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday.