Update: The White House announced late Wednesday night, President Biden's visit to Pfizer and Portage has been postponed by one day and pushed back to Friday. This will make getting to the Air Zoo must easier, without the Secret Service road closure associated with a Presidential visit.

I saw a tweet from the Kalamazoo's Air Zoo about Thursday's Mars rover's space landing. The tweet invites people to come to the Air Zoo and watch the live-stream of the event at 2:15 pm.

That tweet got me to wondering, do people still get excited about space travel and exploration? Yes, in pop culture, Star Trek and Star Wars are as popular as ever, but in the real world, are people still curious and interested in space travel and exploration? Astronauts used to be common characters on TV, but the only one I can remember in recent years is Wolowitz on Big Bang Theory.

When I was a kid, we had the lead-up to the moon landing in July of 1969. And it seems like everyone was watching that. But eventually moon landings and moon walks became somewhat commonplace, plus NASA scaled back on them turned it focus in other directions. The space shuttle missions were a big deal, but sadly, the one we remember most is the Challenger disaster. So I wonder, will this rover landing on Mars Thursday "move the needle" regarding our interest.

Atlas V Rocket Launches NASA's Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover To 7 Month Obit To Mars
COCOA BEACH, FL - JULY 30: A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket streaks skyward off Launch Complex 41 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on July 30, 2020 carrying the Mars 2020 Perseverance rover. The Perseverance rover will seek signs of ancient life and collect rock samples for a possible return to earth. (Photo by Red Huber/Getty Images)

From what I've read, expect a dramatic landing. Here's why.

This is easier said then done. On approach to Mars, the Perseverance rover will shed its cruise stage, retaining only an aeroshell to protect itself and a descent stage. This slimmed-down spacecraft will hit the atmosphere traveling at about 20,000km/hour and have just 410 seconds—or nearly seven minutes—to shed this velocity and make a feathery touchdown. - ARSTechnica

A successful mission could do a lot to capture the national consciousness and boost the stature and awareness of the space program and with it, science related education programs. Maybe some kid watching at the Air Zoo could some day be an astronaut.

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