50 Ways to Space Out

Looking for ways to celebrate a half century of spaceflight? Here’s fifty of ‘em.

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20 GRAB THE SPUTNIK 3 LAPTOP BAG from Chrome, arguably the most tenuous promotional reference to the satellite in 50 years. Chrome says its collection “continues the pioneering spirit of the Space Age by launching Sputnik 3 into the vast cosmos of dull black laptop bags.” The $75 bag, large enough to tote Laika (the first dog in space), has a metallic vinyl shell, nylon liner, and cell phone pouch. Call (415) 503-1221, or order at chromebags.com.

21 STUDY SPACE LAW at the Institute of Air and Space Law at McGill University in Montreal, established the same year Sputnik was launched. McGill coordinates with the nearby Canadian Space Agency, the International Civil Aviation Organization, and the International Air Transport Association, and also publishes the Annales de Droit Aérien et Spatial (Annals of Air and Space Law). File your briefs at mcgill.ca/iasl/.

22 SPACEWOMEN ARE HONORED at the International Women’s Air & Space Museum at Burke Lakefront Airport in Cleveland, Ohio. Honorees include the 13 First Lady Astronaut Trainees (FLATS, assembled by NASA in 1961) along with a roster of spacewomen from Valentina Tereshkova of the Soviet Union (1963) to Sally Ride, the first American woman in space (1983). The IWASM also helps Girl Scouts earn an Aerospace badge. Start online at iwasm.org, or call (216) 623-1111.

23 SIMULATE DEEP SPACE charting and travel by downloading two of the most detailed and realistic simulations, Celestia and Orbiter, for free. Celestia runs on Windows, Linux, and Mac OS X and gives your mouse freedom to hop around 100,000 stars and planets in three dimensions: shatters.net/celestia/ or learn.arc.nasa.gov/planets/index.html. Orbiter empowers you to plan entire missions, from launching the shuttle to designing hardware; orbit.medphys.ucl.ac.uk/orbit.html.

24 HEAR THE ROAR OF A SPACE SHUTTLE ENGINE, up close, at the Stennis Space Center in southern Mississippi. The StenniSphere Visitor’s Center is free and open to the public Wednesday through Saturday (excluding holidays). You’re invited to watch test firings of a space shuttle main engine either during regular hours or at scheduled test-fire viewings. Call (800) 237-1821 or check out www1.ssc.nasa.gov/public/visitors for more information. If you can’t make the trip to Mississippi, watch a test firing at www.nasa.gov/centers/stennis/home/index.html.

25 LET THE LEGO FORCE be with you with the new Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy, from $19.98 to $39.99, depending on your choice of eight video game platforms. Available at LEGO products have been created, like the Imperial Star Destroyer, Ultimate Collector version, with 3,104 pieces for $299.99.

26 PLAY STELLAR MONOPOLY with the U.S. Space Program edition, Night Sky edition, Astronomy edition, and Star Wars Original Trilogy edition (with collectible game pieces). You’ll find most available online for $39.99 or less from boardgamegeek.com or thespaceshop.com.

27 TOUR CAPE CANAVERAL and check out Launch Complex 26, site of the first successful launch of a U.S. satellite, Explorer 1, in 1958, followed by the launches of the first three primates, Gordo, Able, and Miss Baker. The Air Force Space and Missile Museum at Florida’s Cape Canaveral Air Force Station is open every day. Take the two-and-a-half-hour “Cape Canaveral: Then and Now” tour by bus from the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. Reserve your seat by calling (321) 449-4400, or by going online at kennedyspacecenter.com/visitKSC/NASAtours/thenNow.asp.

28 SNAG A FREE POSTER from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center Propellants, Pressure Systems and Life Support Office, with its flaming motto “You Can’t Leave Earth Without Us.” The office ships 24 types of liquid propellants, pressurants, and fluids in 200 tankers and tube trailers to support the space shuttle and Atlas and Delta rockets. Download a printable version at propellants.ksc.nasa.gov/poster.htm.

29 SPACE DOG is one of the classically styled windup toys sold by Tin Man Tin Toys. It sparks, flaps its ears, and opens its mouth ($19.99). Also available at tinmantoys.com: Zorgon, a foot-long rocket from the movie Zathura ($20.99) and dozens more.

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