Blast off at the Surrey Museum this summer

Canada's contribution to space exploration is revealed – and celebrated – in the Surrey Museum's highly-anticipated summer exhibition, Stellar Space.

The Surrey Museum presents Stellar Space this summer.

The Surrey Museum presents Stellar Space this summer.

Canada’s contribution to space exploration is revealed – and celebrated – in the Surrey Museum’s highly-anticipated summer exhibition, Stellar Space.

A year in the making, and created in collaboration with the likes of the Canadian Space Agency, the National Research Council and Canadian aerospace technology titans MacDonald Dettwiler & Associates, the exhibition opened late last month, offering visitors a deeper respect for Canada’s scientific strength and ingenuity.

Did you know Canada was the third nation (after the U.S. and the U.S.S.R.) to launch a satellite into orbit? The Alouette 1 launched nearly 50 years ago (in 1962) to monitor and study our planet’s upper atmosphere and improve long distance radio communications.

It’s inspiration for two life-size replica Canadian satellites in the exhibition – the Alouette 1 and the much newer Sapphire. Both are smaller than you might imagine; they’re only about the size of a La-Z-Boy recliner chair.

Of course, no showcase of the Great White North’s contribution to exploring and understanding the Final Frontier would be complete without the Canadarm, the workhorse of successive shuttle missions and a bright symbol of the spirit of international space cooperation.

Visitors of all ages are invited to test their skills on a robotic scale model, built by local electronics enthusiast Skylar Vine, a freelance entertainment technician who lives in Langley.

Fun fact: the Space Shuttle Discovery is the most travelled vehicle ever built, logging 230 million kms and 351 days in space, putting even the busiest commercial passenger jet to shame.

Computer whizzes and techies alike will be fascinated by the technical details included in the display.

You’ll also be able to learn how much you’d weigh – and how old you’d be – on various planets in our solar system, making you the envy of all trivia buffs everywhere.

There’s plenty to boast about back on Earth; the exhibit features images from the Canada-France-Hawaii telescope, a closer look at various backyard telescopes and telescope cameras, and more.

Canada’s 10 astronauts also get their due; from Marc Garneau, the first Canadian in space, to Dr. Roberta Bondar, and Chris Hadfield, the first Canadian to walk in space, Canada has a solid record of training scientists and pilots to become astronauts.

The exhibit points to future stellar astronaut achievements to come.

In 2013, Hadfield will again boldly go where no other Canadian has gone before when he takes command of the International Space Station, becoming the first Canadian to be put in charge of a space mission.

Canada is a partner in the International Space Station, along with the U.S. Russia, Europe, Japan.

Stellar Space runs to August 27. The museum offers space-themed preschool and children’s programs throughout the summer.

Starting July 8 and running to Aug. 26, the Surrey Museum presents Cosmic Fridays, drop-in sessions from 10:30 a.m. to noon, for kids of all ages. By donation.

And join UBC astrophysicist Gaelen Marsden on Saturday, July 23 (from 2-3 p.m.) for In A Galaxy Far, Far Away as part of the museum’s speaker series.

Learn how scientists study the oldest, farthest galaxies. By donation.

The Surrey Museum is located at 17710 56A Avenue, Surrey. It’s open Tuesdays to Fridays from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. It’s closed Sundays, Mondays, and statutory holidays. Admission sponsored in 2011 by the Friends of the Museum Society.

For more information, call 604-592-6956 or visit www.surrey.ca/heritage.

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