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Christa McAuliffe Space Center Magnifies Simulator Experience with Visionary

Visionary’s PacketAV Duet Matrix Series provides video over IP technology for stealth missions at Christa McAuliffe Space Center.

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Christa McAuliffe Space Center Magnifies Simulator Experience with Visionary

Located in Pleasant Grove, Utah, the Christa McAuliffe Space Center is a 4,000-square-foot facility featuring simulators and a planetarium.

The Space Center is named after Christa McAuliffe, an educator and astronaut who lost her life in the space shuttle Challenger disaster, and is designed to teach astronomy and social studies through simulators with hands-on applications for education. Since opening in 1990, more than 400,000 visitors have experienced the Space Center and its simulated space missions.

Central Elementary School, whose campus houses the Space Center, was revitalized in May 2020. The new school facility, located in Utah’s Alpine School District, reopened in late 2020 with newly commissioned simulators.

“The Christa McAuliffe Space Center has been around for decades,” said Kendall Bowman, AV engineer for Performance Audio. “It’s a staple for students throughout the Utah Valley area. Central Elementary is not only utilized by the current K-12 students.

“Other neighboring schools and districts utilize the facility for hands-on educational experiences. The new facility needed to be designed to offer a high-tech experience for students either attending or visiting for a day,” said Bowman.

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“During the reconstruction, Central Elementary wanted to utilize the downtime as an opportunity to upgrade their AV system,” said Bowman. They had an existing system that was a combination of solutions that were added over some time, but not necessarily designed to work seamlessly.

“Central Elementary selected BNA Consulting to create a unique, user-friendly AV experience during the reconstruction,” Bowman said.

Christa McAuliffe Space Center

Inside the Christa McAuliffe Space Center

The simulators, each with individual names and specific characteristics, are located in separate rooms representing missions based on aspects similar to the Star Trek universe. Each room creates interactive stories, usually applicable to historical events, to create a hands-on learning experience.

“The original design included a matrix solution, but as we continued through the design process, it made more sense to incorporate an IP solution,” said Bowman. “It was important for the client to have a solution that distributed video from one simulator to another simulator, each located in a different room.

“The audio and control system is based on QSC Q-SYS architecture, and from our past experience, Visionary’s products work seamlessly with QSC’s technology. We worked with BNA Consulting to incorporate network infrastructure to provide the client with a seamless yet flexible solution,” said Bowman.

Visionary’s PacketAV Duet Matrix Series is designed for standard network infrastructure, which allowed Performance Audio to create a scalable solution for Central Elementary.

“We utilized 24 PacketAV Duet encoders and 12 PacketAV Duet decoders to bridge the video between six simulators,” said Bowman. “The end result was a flexible, robust solution. Most importantly, it created a lot of value for our client, because they have the opportunity to add a display or other input source without having to replace any of their technology.

Performance Audio’s installation at Central Elementary was its largest installation with Visionary, although it’s been working with Visionary’s technology for more than five years.

“The client is thrilled with the flexibility of the systems. We’ve had nothing but good feedback from them on the final result,” Bowman said.

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