The count-down has begun for the opening of the new Christa McAuliffe Space Education Center, located at Central Elementary, 95 N. 400 East.

An open house will be held Wednesday, Nov. 7, from 2:30 to 9 p.m. to introduce the public to the new facility.The open house culminates years of planning, fund raising, and construction of the $100,000, 18,000-square-foot facility, which will simulate space flight on a bridge that resembles that of the Starship Enterprise on the TV series "Star Trek".

"This is an educational dream come true," said Victor Williamson, a teacher in Central Elementary who has spearheaded the project.

The center includes a classroom facility and the Voyager Mission Simulator. This classroom will service the needs of students, teachers and adults throughout Utah in the following areas:

-Teacher in-service: Teachers are taught new and exciting methods of delivering space science educational activities. The center receives all of NASA, Challenger Centerand other educational teacher updates over satellite transmission.

-Field trips: Teachers from all over the state can bring up to 70 students to the center at one time.

-Unit preparation: The classroom is equipped with a large curriculum and video library. Teachers may come and prepare their own space lessons on weekends or after school.

The Voyager Mission Simulator will include the following:

-Starship module: The starship occupies the top level of the building. Up to 30 students can travel the universe learning space science in a very real way.

-Submarine module: The module occupies the same area as the starship. Here the students will be able to sail Earth's oceans and seas. They will have the opportunity to explore these waters, to study oceanography and marine biology.

-Inner body ship module: This unit allows students to navigate their ship through a human body on an adventure of biological discovery.

-Space shuttle module: The space shuttle is located on the lower deck of the Voyager Simulator. It is designed to resemble the flight deck of a space shuttle in Earth's orbit and will allow students to conduct Earth observation studies.

Funding for the project came through various sources, including the Christa McAuliffe National Fellowship, the Utah State Office of Education, the Alpine School District, the Alpine Foundation and US WEST.

Further information regarding the center and its services may be obtained by calling Central Elementary at 785-8711.