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Best Ride That's Outta This World Phoenix 2008 - Challenger Space Center

Challenger Space Center

Challenger Space Center

21170 N. 83rd Ave.

Peoria, AZ 85382

623-322-2001

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Friends often accuse us of having our heads in outer space. They don't know the half of it. Since childhood, we've dreamed of becoming astronauts. Alas, our feeble skills in science and math ruled out such a career path. So pending the day when the whole space-tourism thing becomes a more practical (and affordable) reality, the closest we're getting to trekking among the stars is by visiting the Challenger Space Center in Peoria.

This futuristic-looking facility offers a pair of simulated missions, where Neil Armstrong wanna-bes can participate in a pair of interactive two-hour experiences replicating (to a certain degree) a journey through the final frontier and life aboard the International Space Station. (Participants also get a turn at working as a flight crew in the million-dollar mission control facility inspired by the Johnson Space Center in Houston.) After sitting in the Earth Space Transit Module (which "transports" you into the cosmos), you can either help launch interstellar probes to encounter celestial bodies during "Rendezvous with a Comet," or take an excursion to the red planet in "Voyage to Mars."

Don't worry about motion sickness; there's no movement involved. It's more a cerebral adventure involving video screens that's somewhat akin to the old Mission to Mars ride at Disneyland — just without all those creepy-looking animatronic automatons.

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