Walking through the newest permanent gallery in the National Mall building, Moving Beyond Earth, visitors get a sense of being "in orbit." On one wall is an expansive view of the Earth, while a fly-around tour of the International Space Station fills another. A stage for live events, broadcasts, and webcasts at the center of the gallery also serves as the platform for SpaceFlight Academy, a group quiz game where visitors can test their space smarts and become "flight ready."
Interactive computer kiosks focus on specific aspects of spaceflight. These devices enable visitors to serve as a mission control flight director for a shuttle mission, equip a new module for the space station, manipulate and assemble space-station elements, explore the Moon and Mars, and match visitors' interests to jobs in the spaceflight workforce.
Signature artifacts reflect the exhibition's themes: a 12-foot-tall space shuttle model and other mock-ups represent the quest for routine access to space; astronaut gear, spacesuit gloves, and parts of the Hubble Space Telescope convey the challenges of living and working in space; and the suit worn by space tourist Dennis Tito and a model Ares launch vehicle suggest future prospects for commercial spaceflight and future lunar exploration.
The first stage of the gallery opened November 19. The second and final stage will open in late 2011.
Photo: These space shuttle extra vehicular activity gloves and Sokol pressure-suit glove are on display in the Moving Beyond Earth gallery in the Museum's National Mall building.