HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Conor Daly and Alexander Rossi are Verizon IndyCar Series rookies, so many racing experiences this year are new to them. But the American pair experienced a whole new thrill in a visit Thursday to the U.S. Rocket and Science Center.
The two Sunoco Rookie of the Year contenders experienced a day at “Space Camp” as astronauts that included landing an Orion capsule on the Martian moon Phobos, donning spacesuits to work in zero gravity and repairing the space station. They even took a turn on a multi-access trainer that spun and flipped them around and took an up-close look at the Saturn V rocket that helped power NASA astronauts to the moon.
“If it was possible to have any more respect for (astronauts) than I already do, I definitely gained that today,” said Rossi, driver of the No. 98 Castrol Edge/Curb Honda for Andretti Herta Autosport with Curb-Agajanian in this weekend's Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park in nearby Birmingham. “It’s a pretty crazy thing with very small margins of error. It was a spectacular experience and I’m glad we got to be here today.”
Daly joked he prepared for his visit to Space Camp at by watching “The Martian,” the 2015 feature film and Academy Award nominee for best picture starring Matt Damon as an astronaut left behind on Mars.
“I loved being here,” said Daly, driver of the No. 18 Jonathan Byrd’s Hospitality Honda for Dale Coyne Racing. “I really wanted to go to space before I came here, and now I really want to go even more. It’s so cool. I love everything about NASA and the idea of space travel. It was a really fun experience.”
Watch their experience here: