Rusty Rocket's Last Blast

Rusty Rocket has one final mission to command: an introductory tour of the solar system for a new class of rocket rookies. Along the way, Rusty highlights the wide variety of environments in the solar system, the great distances between the planets, and the spacecraft that explore them.

Rusty Rocket's Last Blast is currently only available for school groups. To book a group reservation, call (615) 862-5177 at least two weeks in advance.

For More Information

Download the ASC Educator's Guide for Rusty Rocket's Last Blast

Web sites


  • Rocket Science (Apogee Books Space Series) by Alfred Zaehringer and Steve Whitfield
  • Space Exploration (DK Eyewitness Books) by Carole Stott
  • The Amazing International Space Station by the Editors of YES Mag
  • Space Shuttle: The First 20 Years - The Astronauts' Experiences in Their Own Words by DK Publishing
Rusty Rocket's Last Blast is recommended for Grades 1-5.

TN State Science Standards

Conceptual Strands

  • EMBEDDED TECHNOLOGY AND ENGINEERING E.2 Recognize new tools, technology, and inventions are always being developed
    E.4 Recognize the connection between scientific advances, new knowledge, and the availability of new tools and technologies.
  • PHYSICS / CONCEPTUAL PHYSICS STANDARD 1 - MECHANICS Conceptual Strand 1: Laws and properties of mechanics are the foundations of physics
  • THE UNIVERSE Conceptual Strand 6: The cosmos is vast and explored well enough to know its basic structure and operational principles.
  • MOTION Conceptual Strand 11: Objects move in ways that can be observed, described, predicted, and measured.
  • FORCES IN NATURE Conceptual Standard 12: Everything in the universe exerts a gravitational force on everything else.

Grade Level Expectations (GLE)

Grades 1 to 5

All Levels
  • GLE (01-05)07.Inq.1 Observe the world of familiar objects using the senses and tools.
  • GLE (01-05)07.Inq.2 Ask questions, make logical predictions, plan investigations, and represent data.

1st Grade

Physical Science
  • GLE 0107.11.1 Investigate how forces (push, pull) can move an object or change its direction.

2nd Grade

Earth and Space Science
The Universe
  • GLE 0207.6.1 Realize that the sun is our nearest star and that its position in the sky appears to change.
Physical Science
  • GLE 0207.10.1 Explain why the sun is the primary source of the earth’s energy.
Forces In Nature
  • GLE 0207.12.2 Realize that things fall toward the ground unless something holds them up.

3rd Grade

Earth and Space Science
The Universe
  • GLE 0307.6.1 Identify and compare the major components of the solar system.
Physical Science
  • GLE 0307.11.1 Explore how the direction of a moving object is affected by unbalanced forces.
  • GLE 0307.11.2 Recognize the relationship between the mass of an object and the force needed to move it.

4th Grade

Earth and Space Science
The Universe
  • GLE 0407.6.1 Analyze patterns, relative movements, and relationships among the sun, moon and earth.
Physical Science
  • GLE 0407.11.3 Investigate the relationship between the speed of an object and the distance traveled during a certain time period.

5th Grade

Earth and Space Science
The Universe
  • GLE 0507.6.1 Compare planets based on their known characteristics.
Physical Science
  • GLE 0507.11.1 Design an investigation, collect data and draw conclusions about the relationship among mass, force, and distance traveled.
  • GLE 0507.12.1 Recognize that the earth attracts objects without directly touching them.
  • GLE 0507.12.3 Provide examples of how forces can act at a distance.


  • ammonia
  • asteroid
  • atmosphere
  • carbon dioxide
  • Cassini
  • composition
  • core
  • extreme
  • Galileo
  • gravity
  • helium
  • hydrogen
  • launch pad
  • methane
  • microgravity
  • Moon
  • moon
  • orbit
  • planet
  • poisonous
  • radiation
  • rings
  • rocket
  • spacesuit
  • sulfur
  • sulfuric acid
  • toxic
  • volcanoes


  1. Name at least three objects in the solar system and describe at least one characteristic of each object.
  2. Name the four planets in our solar system known to have rings and give one example of how they are different.
  3. Describe two spacecraft that have explored our solar system, what planets they visited, and at least one discovery.

Pre-Visit Activities

  1. Invite students to invent creative ways for remembering the names of the planets.
  2. Build a scale model of the solar system focused on the distances between the various objects. The model can be small enough to fit in a pocket or as long as a football field. Give the actual distances in miles or kilometers. Older students can calculate distances to the planets based on scale: one toilet paper square, one floor tile, or one foot equals xx many miles.
  3. Compare the relative sizes of the planets and the Sun. Examine why it is a challenge to make a scale model of sizes and even harder to do both size and distance in the same model.

Post-Visit Activities

  1. Download the monthly star chart from our website Encourage students to locate the constellations and any planets visible in the evening sky. Extra points for observing planets in the predawn sky.
  2. Build a scale model of the solar system. See pre-visit activities and web links for references.
  3. What about Pluto? Compare the dictionary definition of a planet to the one from the International Astronomical Union. How has our knowledge changed since Pluto was discovered in 1930? How many “dwarf planets” are there now? What is the status of the New Horizons spacecraft set to fly past Pluto in 2015?
  4. Have students learn about other objects in the solar system: moons, asteroids, comets, TNOs, KBOs, etc.
  5. An example of how our knowledge is constantly expanding is the number of moons orbiting the planets. How many are there now? How are they discovered?
  6. Follow our newest explorer on Mars: What is Curiosity doing today?
  7. Have students investigate the names of solar system objects and their features. Interesting research reveals cultures, mythology, history, literature, and more..
  8. Have students investigate the robotic spacecraft that have explored our solar system. Not all missions have been successful while others have accomplished much more than originally planned. Use a solar system model to plot each spacecraft’s destinations and discoveries.

Exhibit Connections

Space Chase – Test Bed

Start at the Rocket Launch to see how rockets escape Earth’s gravity. Use Trajectory Trails to see how rockets move in space because of gravity. Explore the Drop Tower & Spin Browser to see how everyday objects behave in microgravity. These three exhibits provide hands-on experience with Newton’s Laws of Motion.

Practice moving outside a spacecraft on the EVA wall, or sit and try to use a tool on the MicroG simulator chairs. Space Chase – Solar System Survey

The movement of the earth around the sun can be seen in the Earth-sun orrery in the Solar System Survey.

Explore the Solar System Touchscreens to learn about the Sun, planets, moons, and human exploration of Earth’s planetary neighborhood.