INFINITY Science Center is a not-for-profit museum located just north of town, right off of I-10. Besides being a fantastic destination in itself, with dozens of hands-on exhibits for explorers young and old, it also hosts the visitor's center for NASA's Stennis Space Center. While traveling to the area, staying at one of the beach hotels near INFINITY Science Center is the perfect way to start and end your out-of-this-world exploration.
The crown jewel of INFINITY's collection is the massive Saturn V S-1C booster. This is a real first-stage section of an unflown moon rocket. Like this one, a booster lifted off from Cape Canaveral on July 16, 1969, and took astronauts Niel Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins to the moon on Apollo 11. This booster would've taken Mississippi-native astronaut Fred Haise to the moon on Apollo 19, but that mission was canceled.
The unused rocket is now part of the museum, a monolithic artifact visible to motorists zooming past on I-10. The five massive F-1 rocket engines mounted to this rocket are to this day the most powerful engines ever built, capable of creating 1.5 million pounds of thrust each. What's the Mississippi connection? Stennis Space Center, located just north of this location, is NASA's premier rocket testing facility. The site was chosen here, far away from towns, to provide the requisite sound barrier for such a noisy activity.
But the Science Center is about a whole lot more than just one remarkable rocket. The main facility has a carnivorous plant exhibit with more than 200 species on display, an Earth Gallery, a Space Gallery, and a Little Learner's Lab.
The Earth Gallery takes a look at science here on earth, with exhibits on hurricane forecasting and deep ocean exploration. Then take a look at the beginnings of Stennis Space Center and how it has shaped rural Hancock County, Mississippi.
The Space Gallery is located on the second floor of the Science Center and features, as you might expect, more out-of-this-world activities. There's the original Apollo 4 command module, along with real spacesuits and parts from NASA's space shuttle. There's also a life-sized model of an International Space Station lab and videos about the newest NASA spacecraft, the Orion space capsule.
The Little Learner's Lab is designed specifically for the smallest members of your family, namely those five and under. The lab is decorated with outer space and Mississippi swamp science-themed murals and displays. It's all about hands-on exploring, developing problem-solving and critical thinking skills, and fostering observational learning through simple investigation. It's fun, educational, and will keep your kids entertained for hours.
INFINITY is also home to a 3D theater with a state-of-the-art laser projector and surround-sound audio. Shows rotate throughout the day with something different playing every hour. Science-based documentaries explore the space program and our efforts to journey to Mars and oceanography. Many programs involve animals. Earthflight features incredible footage of birds during migrations. Tiny Giants takes viewers to explore the microscopic world from a chipmunk and a mouse's point of view. The 3D theater also gives visitors an up-close look at the rocket test facility’s inner workings at Stennis.
Outside the center, take a stroll on the Biome Boardwalk to learn about coastal Mississippi's diverse habitats. You'll see Bayhead Swamps, Lowland Pines, Pitcher Plant bogs, and an Upland Savannah. Learn about some of the unique critters that call this place home, like the Great Blue Heron, otters, snakes, and alligators. To get even deeper into the boondocks, hop on the Possum Walk Trail Tram. This eco-friendly electric tram offers an open-air, 45-minute tour of some of the natural areas around Stennis Space Center.
So what are you waiting for? Book a room at one of the beach hotels near INFINITY Science Center and blast off to adventure!