Members-Only Sneak Peek at New Temporary Exhibit “Astronaut” with Special Guests including Space Shuttle Astronaut and NASA Operations Support Manager

Opening Jan. 17, 2020, this exhibit uses hands-on and full-body displays to illustrate what it takes to be a space explorer.

Union City, Tenn. – Discovery Park of America will be launching the latest temporary exhibit with a special, members-only sneak peek featuring Dr. Lawrence DeLucas, Principal Scientist at the Aerospace Corporation, in a program at 6 p.m. on Thurs., Jan. 16, 2020.

As a member of the seven-person crew of Space Shuttle Columbia for Mission “STS-50,” called the United States Microgravity Laboratory-1 (USML-1) Spacelab mission, Dr. DeLucas traveled more than 6 million miles, completing 221 orbits of earth and logging over 331 hours in space. In 1994 and 1995, Dr. DeLucas served as the Chief Scientist for the International Space Station at NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C.

He received five degrees from the University of Alabama at Birmingham culminating in a Doctor of Optometry degree and a Ph.D. degree in Biochemistry. He also received honorary Doctor of Science degrees from Ohio State University, Ferris State University, SUNY College of Optometry and the Illinois College of Optometry. He has published 164 peer-reviewed research articles in various scientific journals, co-authored and edited several books on protein crystal growth and membrane proteins and is a co-inventor on 43 patents involving protein crystal growth, novel biotechnologies and structure-based drug design.

The special launch event on Jan. 16, 2020, 5 – 7 p.m. is free for Discovery Park members. Dr. DeLucas will be participating in a program in the Tennessee Room beginning at 6 p.m. with an autograph session to follow.

Another special guest, Jason Kelley, will participate in the autograph session and will be at Discovery Park on opening day, Jan. 17, 2020, to speak with students and other guests at the museum.

Kelley, who graduated from South Fulton High School in 2002 and holds a B.S. in Agricultural Economics with a Minor in Bio-Systems Engineering Technology from the University of Tennessee, works at the Marshall Space Flight Center and provides support for NASA payload operations on board the International Space Station.

Before working at NASA, Kelley worked at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center for Space Camp and Aviation Challenge as a team counselor and then a camp supervisor. He also served on an Alabama Homeland Security project called Virtual Alabama while at the Rocket Center.

Teachers interested in attending one of the free programs with Jason Kelley on Jan. 17 should contact Andrew Gibson at or 731-885-5455. Space is limited.

The exhibit, “Astronaut,” opens to the public on Fri., Jan. 17. It allows guests to explore the physical and mental challenges involved in space exploration and to discover what life is like outside Earth’s atmosphere.

Located in the ATA Traveling Exhibit Hall, the exhibit features 26 different stations that demonstrate how life is lived in space with zero gravity. Guests can test their grip strength in special gloves that mimic the pressurized spacesuit, or they can work together to smoothly launch their own space mission.

“As partners with parents and teachers in the region, I believe this exhibit enhances many of the science and STEAM lessons students are being taught in the classroom,” said Scott Williams, Discovery Park of America president and CEO. “Opening it with special guests like Dr. Lawrence DeLucas and Jason Kelley allows us to celebrate and inspire passion for science in a fun and unique way.”

The education team at Discovery Park has space-related programs to offer school groups when they visit. Additionally, there is a School and Visitors Guide available online that covers key messages and learning opportunities that are included throughout the exhibit, as well as supplemental projects that can be done at home or in the classroom before or after a visit.

“Astronaut” will be open to the public Jan. 17 – May 3, 2020. Tickets for “Astronaut” will be $6.95 in addition to the price of admission to Discovery Park. Special pricing of $4.95 is available for students in groups. For more information or to book a field trip, educators should call reservations at 731-885-5455 or email

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