Space Station.

The Space Station Museum

Field review by the editors.

Novato, California

Two once vacant storefronts in a shopping plaza now serve a higher purpose: "to increase the public's understanding that a strong global commitment toward future manned space expeditions is an important key to accelerating our civilization's development."

Up close and touching all the space suits.

The Space Station is a small but intimate exhibit of artifacts and bric-a-brac from a half century of manned space flight. The items -- control panels, hatches, helmets, suits, etc. -- are part of a private collection accumulated from NASA and Russian space programs. After a couple of well received public exhibitions, a permanent museum with regular hours opened on Nov. 11, 2011.

The dedication and ribbon cutting a month earlier starred NASA shuttle astronauts Rick Searfoss, John Herrington, and Apollo 12's Dick Gordon Jr. The narrow store space was crowded with families and kids eager to touch space artifacts. That's right -- this is the first space museum we've visited that allows visitors to paw the fabric of astronaut suits, or probe the million-dollar innards of important space devices.

Lunar module replica.

This unique access to museum items is supposed to continue, though we completely understand if plexiglas shields start popping up once the irreplaceable relics start to wear out.

When we visited again in 2014, the museum had added a 9/10ths scale replica of a Lunar Module and a full size Lunar Rover replica. Visitors could pop on an astronaut glove, or slip into a pair of moon boots beneath the Lunar module and shuffle around in a tiny simulation of Moon dirt.

The Space Station Museum

464 Ignacio Blvd., Novato, CA
Pacheco Plaza Shopping Center, US Hwy 101 exit for Ignacio Blvd., head west, in the shopping center on the right between Marin Coffee and Boca Pizza.
Sa-Su 12-4, Th-F 11-4, seasonal F 6-8, or by appt. (Call to verify)
Free, donations accepted.
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
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In the region:
San Francisco's Last Tumbleweed, San Francisco, CA - 20 mi.

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