Payload Blog

Step. Power. Launch.

If you’re visiting Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, then you don’t want to miss the all-new Step. Power. Launch. experience. In partnership with the Georgia Tech Research Institute, Step. Power. Launch. takes an innovative technology called piezoelectricity and creates an interactive game.

The piezoelectric tiles created by the Georgia Tech Research Institute contain many electronic pieces. A piezoelectric tile from the Step. Power. Launch!

What is Piezoelectricity?

Piezoelectricity is when certain crystalline materials, like quartz, generate electricity in response to applied pressure, such as the natural movement of humans. A real life example of piezoelectricity is a grill lighter. When you turn on a grill, a small spring-loaded hammer hits a crystal and generates a spark that ignites the gas inside the grill. Other examples include flash photography or sidewalks lined with tiles that power street lamps using pedestrian footsteps.

You can test out this technology firsthand by walking (or jumping!) on our piezo tiles. As you exit the Rocket Garden, follow the Vapor Trail to find the Earth, Moon and Mars in NASA Central, all comprised of the tiles. Stepping on the piezoelectric tiles produces energy and helps power the two tower displays.

A whiteboard containing research and designs for the Step. Power. Launch! experience.

It Takes a Team

Launching a rocket alone is nearly impossible, but with a team of experts it can be accomplished. Just like NASA’s mission control and team of engineers and scientists, you and your friends can work together to “launch a rocket” on the tower displays! The more you step on the tiles, the more energy you will produce to fill the meter. When the meter is full, you can witness a “rocket launch” on the screens – using real footage from previous launches.

Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is not just a place to learn about the history of NASA. You can find out what the future holds for space travel and see how innovative technology, like piezoelectricity, makes a difference in your everyday life. Purchase tickets to visit today!

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Guests jumping on the piezoelectric tile at Step. Power. Launch!