Activities & Resources
Challenger Space Center050in Peoria, AZ 85382
about Challenger Space Center:
Originally designed as a space science complex to serve students around Arizona, Challenger has been embraced by all generations as a one-of-a-kind educational and entertainment experience for Valley families.
From the pseudo-lunar landscaping outside to the high-tech architectural touches within, the center embodies the spirit of the space program. As you enter the lobby, the "whoosh" of sleek chrome and glass sliding doors invites you to forget the daily grind and become a kid again - full of wonder and awe at what lies beyond the horizon.
Just past the entrance is a floating observation deck overlooking the rotunda. This impressive structure houses a six-story Tour of the Universe mural painted by artist Robert McCall.
There are three levels of exhibits including colorful space artwork and photographs, spacecraft models and mock-ups, interactive computer stations with flight simulator and lunar landing programs, and an astronaut photo opportunity station.
Visitors can watch a short movie in the theater and view flight memorabilia from Orville Wright to present day NASA crews. An impressive collection of mission patches from every shuttle mission is displayed, along with actual ceramic re-entry tiles, meteorite samples, and an iridium satellite.
The Giant StarLab Planetarium presents 40-minute programs on a myriad of subjects. This program costs $4 per person in addition to the general admission fee and is a unique family learning experience. Check our event calendar for monthly dates and times.
Family Fun Nights are also offered monthly and feature outdoor stargazing activities. The program includes a slide presentation on the constellations and planets and information on upcoming sky events. Families are encouraged to use the many different telescopes set up for viewing the moon, planets, and star clusters. The best part - it's all free with paid admission to the center! Check our calendar for dates and times, then gather up your blankets and lawn chairs and bring the kids to this star-studded event!
The Challenger Space Center is best known for its Simulated Space Missions. After attending Orientation, participants are split into two teams and take turns performing the important crew tasks at Mission Control (designed after the Johnson Space Center) and the International Space Station. Will you rendezvous with the comet's tail and launch a scientific probe? The success of your journey is determined by your team's ability to work together. Tickets include admission to the center.
Guided tours are offered throughout the day and are included with general admission. While the center has interpretive signs to guide you throughout the exhibit, the volunteer-led tours offer helpful insight into the center's history, layout, displays, and works of art. If you're not taking the Simulated Space Mission, this will be your only opportunity to experience the Earth Space Transit Module (ESTM), an imaginary flight into space that ranks high on the "cool" meter with kids.
The center specializes in space camps and educational programs and tours for school and private groups. Educators are offered special discounts; call for details.
The Galaxy Gift Shop offers a great variety of space-themed toys, books, clothing, and more. Some of the more popular items are contained in a Future NASA Astronaut rolling suitcase kids ages 6-11 can use for free during their visit. Check these out by leaving a driver's license at the front desk. If your child colors one of the pictures contained inside, the front desk will use it to create a keepsake badge to take home.
Birthday parties are a blast at Challenger! Parties are good for 7-20 guests, ages 5 and up. The Cadet Party package includes 1-1/2 hours of space-themed activities and games, use of decorated party room, favors, cake and juice drink, and a launch in the ESTM. Guests create ultraviolet bracelets, comets, magnetic starships, and cotton ball constellations. Call for additional information and pricing.
Family memberships are available; see website for prices and details.