Wednesday, September 15, 2010

What are the mechanics of Mission: Space at EPCOT?

Mission: Space is one of the central attractions of EPCOT at the Walt Disney World resort in Orlando, Florida. The intent of the ride is to give guests the sensation that they are going on an actual mission into outer space. Many guests are unaware of what the ride actually does or how it works. The attraction is essentially a multiple arm centrifuge. The illusion of acceleration is achieved by spinning and tilting capsules that you sit in during the four-minute mission to space. Fans blow air gently at riders to help avoid motion sickness and a display in front of each rider simulates the stars of space.

Mission: SPACE comprises four separate centrifuges, each with 10 capsules holding four riders, bringing the hourly capacity to 1,600 riders.. The attraction exposes riders to forces up to 2.5G, more than twice the force of gravity at the Earth's surface (effectively multiplying a rider's weight by 2.5). A few months after the ride's opening, motion sickness bags were added within easy reach of riders, and for good reason! But what does the ride actually look like? A multiple arm centrifuge is not the easiest contraption to visualize! I have created a quick CAD mock up of Mission: Space, minus the capsules that you actually sit in.

 There are a total of four of these centrifuges.
 Ten arms on each one.



Starting in May of 2006, Disney began offering a less intense (or sickening) version of the ride where the centrifuge does not spin. This tamer experience is ironically known as the Green Team. The cabs themselves still pitch (+45, -55°) and pivot (±25° roll), providing some motion. The normal ride is still available and is called Orange Team. Here is another image of a similar style attraction built by ECT.


If you enjoy reading articles about how complicated theme park rides, like Mission: Space, work then consider checking out this book that goes into great detail about the most technologically advanced ride on the planet, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey.

27 comments:

  1. I just went on this ride and I was trying to figure out just how the heck they did this. My husband and I got pretty queasy right away and we were both fairly miserable the entire time as we chose the full ride, orange team. We are both in good shape too, in our forties (I run 5k's, things like that) My 11 year old son however didn't seem to be affected in the least and enjoyed the experience. The thing that gets me on these rides is that simulator problem where the motion does not match perfectly exactly the video sequence and your mind somehow knows that. Something about that makes people sick. To be honest, if I had been more informed that the ride was spinning giving a G-Force effect for real, I night have backed out. Anyway thanks for the information here.

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    1. Hi Kimberly, thanks for the comment! You’re absolutely correct. I don’t remember the exact specifics, but if the simulator movement and film are not perfectly synchronized it can make the riders very dizzy and sick. I haven’t been on Mission: Space myself but I’ve heard not to ever look to either side, only stare straight ahead. There’s some type of spinning object while standing in-line you should avoid looking at as well.

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  3. Hey a. Thanks for this!! I went on several times on orange and it is really intense, I could even fell my face caving in! AnyWay thanks for this, I knew we were spinning as I know a.lot about science but some of the info here I didn't know. Any idea how fast it spins?
    Thanks!

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  4. I liked the ride and am glad I went but not something I'd choose to do over and over. I have been a pilot for more than 23 years and during initial flight training had to overcome air sickness. Just like working out or running a 5k or anything.....your body builds up endurance or becomes acclimated. I learned to enjoy flying the T-38 Talon after about 50+ hours of flight time.....then after 3 years of flying "heavies" I got a chance for an F-15 ride.....threw up for a bulk of the flight....ive had chance for several more back-seat rides and passed....been there done that, dont need to hurl again. I think k anybody can get through it once and should.....you will doubtfully yack in four minutes....if even that long.....may give people a bit more respect for what a fighter pilot or astronaut in this case really goes through.....on the other ha d they are conditioned for what they do......enjoy

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  5. THIS IS THE WORST RIDE EVER!! IT KILLED 2 PEOPLE (ONE WAS A LITTLE BOY)! IT SHOULD BE REMOVED!!! IT MADE ME SICK AND DIZZY AND I WAS BASICALLY OUT OF IT FOR AN HOUR AND A HALF AFTERWARD! AVOID THIS RIDE AT ALL COST!

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    1. Apparently you did not read the warning signs.

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    2. Both deaths were the result of preexisting conditions. The boy had a heart defect that had not been diagnosed. It is not the worst ride ever, nor is it a sinister killing machine. I have ridden it multiple times and insist on the Orange Team experience every time. If you are informed about the ride ahead of time and pay attention to the vast array of safety/sickness notices plastered all over the walls and strung throughout the pre-show videos, then you should be able to make the right choice for you. On the other hand, if you choose to remain ignorant regarding the ride, then you only have yourself to blame. Quit being so reactionary.

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    3. It's not the worst ride ever, it's one of the best. Perhaps you shouldn't have chosen the ORANGE team, the warnings were clearly displayed. People die on other rides too, but you have a greater chance of dying driving on an interstate or highway. People like you should just stick to driving in the slow lane and not attending theme parks.

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    4. It's a unfortunate thing when people die on rides but it happens on a lot of them. As for you getting sick boohoo next time read the warning signs

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    5. It's a unfortunate thing when people die on rides but it happens on a lot of them. As for you getting sick boohoo next time read the warning signs

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    6. People die on rickety travelling amusement park rides and children coasters all over the world, not to mention basic transportation deaths the world over. It's a good ride, one of my favourites at any Disney park, I prefer orange team but I'd recommend it to anyone, regardless of the team.

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  6. There are plenty of signs warning you about what your in for. And those kids that died had existing medical conditions and shouldnt have been on the ride in the first place.

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  7. Agreed. I went one and it was intense for me, and nothing bothers me. Kids have no place on this ride, yet I waited in line behind a family with a 4 yr old who met the height requirement, and a 5 yr old, only to hear the mom say "wow cant believe she did ok being she gets motions sick....WTF? Parents are idiots using their kids as test dummies. Disney should know this and ban kids under 12 IMO.

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  9. Grrrr ..... a very naïve, blanket statement, IMHO
    It may not be suitable for your kids but all kids under 12 should NOT be banned., I have just returned from Epcot where my 5 & 7 year old went on this ride with both me and my hubby - we all loved it. Its a parental decision (granted, guidance or recommendations from Disney are needed by some less intelligent parents, but we cannot all be tarnished by the same brush, surely)?

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  10. you all should be murdered

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  11. We went on it...our family group of 4, ages 67-74. We read the warning signs but felt confident we could handle the orange ticket ride... I love spinning things. Wrong. This was beyond spinning, as in teacups and tilt-a-whirl. If that ride had lasted one more minute I am sure I would have had easily a "protein spill". Stomach was queasy for about 15 minutes after, then was all right. Husband and sister in law felt sick for about a hour and a half after. I have never had issues with motion sickness before and my sister in law had even taken a Dramamine before hand, just in case.No other problems occurred with us. I'm happy to say I won't be riding that ride again if I ever return to DW. I have a lot more respect for pilots now... ;-) lol

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  13. Have been going for years to Disney and went on this ride this past year for the 1st time, very sick right after it was over a threw up later that night, if you have any problems at all with motion sickness stay away from this ride.

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  14. This is one of my favorite rides of all time! The sensation of feeling like your being blasted into space and that feeling of breaking the earths atmosphere, is exactly why I love this ride! I Always do the Orange team! Rock On!

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  15. I liked the green version, what I can't understand is how it made me feel weightless, when we were floating in space, if it doesn't spin?

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  16. I am 57 years old. I followed the instructions and put my head back and stared straight ahead. I could feel the g force but could not even tell I was spinning. It had no effect on me what so ever. It was an awesome ride. In the spirit of full disclosure, I was taking dramamine the entire week we were at Disney. I did not want motion sickness to get in the way of my fun. Loved this ride and so did my 13 year old daughter!

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  17. I am 57 years old. I followed the instructions and put my head back and stared straight ahead. I could feel the g force but could not even tell I was spinning. It had no effect on me what so ever. It was an awesome ride. In the spirit of full disclosure, I was taking dramamine the entire week we were at Disney. I did not want motion sickness to get in the way of my fun. Loved this ride and so did my 13 year old daughter!

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  18. Perfect ride. Valsalva maneuvers helps a lot to not faint

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  19. I am a 74 yr old male in generally good health. I went Green the first time with my wife a few weeks ago. It was fun but not exciting. Went Orange last week. WOW!! It was intense. My cabin mates and I all did high 5s when we landed. Great simulation. Great ride. I'll do this one again.

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  20. This ride is Trash and it has been for years. Someone explain the ten minute wait times. No one would choose this over test track or Soarin'. It should be replaced.

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