What happened to the grand days of space exploration? It was only a few decades ago when Neil Armstrong took his first step on the moon and solemnly stated: “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” But the dreams of adventuring further into space have been all but forgotten, with exploration now more concerned with satellites, telescopes, telecommunications and space rovers.

Space Expo 2014 at Makuhari Messe in Chiba Prefecture harks back to those glorious days while also reminding us that further space travel could be just around the corner.

The biggest achievements of the last five decades of exploration are detailed — starting with the NASA Mercury and Apollo missions — with several replica models on display, including the front fuselage of a shuttle. The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s successes are also highlighted with replicas of its Japanese Experiment Module Kibo laboratory (part of International Space Station), its asteroid-exploring probe Hayabusa and more.

Visions of future space exploration are examined, with prototypes of future spacecraft and other innovative projects, such as a space elevator. All this is accompanied by comprehensive explanations to inspire aspiring space-travelers and astronauts of all ages.

Space Expo 2014 takes place at Makuhari Messe from July 19 to Sept 23; open 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Entrance is ¥2,500 at the door or ¥2,200 in advance. Discounts are available for students. For more information, please visit www.space-expo2014.jp/english.

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