Space: An Out-of-Gravity Experience

Have you ever imagined what it is like to live in space? Maybe you’ve pondered what it’s like to eat dehydrated food, sleep with your arms floating and even go to the bathroom using a suction toilet. What about working in space? Have you imagined how you would grow plants without water, wear a thick suit applying pressure to your body or type on a computer keyboard in a rotating lab?

Very few of us ever get the chance to go to space so the closest we usually come to understanding how humans live and work up there is by using our imagination. That is, until now.

Suit up and strap in because the Science Museum of Virginia is offering the next-best experience to engage in an exciting cosmic journey in an immersive way with the touring exhibition “Space: An Out-of-Gravity Experience”.

“Space” features dozens of hands-on stations that let you explore the extraordinary environment of space, including the dangers humans face during their missions and adaptations engineers have developed to help them survive. Unlike many space exhibitions that focus on the history of cosmic adventures, “Space” looks to the future, both in what scientific innovations will be needed and what considerations are involved when (not if!) we construct a colony on Mars.

In the environmental protection section of “Space,” you will learn about radiation, meteoroids and temperature extremes, and experiment with a vacuum chamber to determine if you can hear a bell in space. You can explore the science of getting to space, such as the physics of the launch and the power needed on a spacecraft. You get the chance to use a 16-foot drop tower to investigate how objects behave differently in a weightless environment.

As you enter the section on living and working in space, you can use a robot arm to move a ball and put your hand in an astronaut glove. Experience how astronauts eat, sleep and even go to the bathroom. Explore the sights, sounds and smells on board a full-size orbiting mock-up of the International Space Station’s U.S. Destiny lab module.

“Space” includes interactive elements and games to help you learn through play, as well as NASA video footage showcasing the challenges and accomplishments of scientists, astronauts and engineers involved in all stages of the process. Throughout the exhibition, misconceptions about space and space exploration, many of which are reinforced by popular media, are debunked.

At the end of the exhibition, you can use your imagination again when you’re confronted with numerous decisions involved in pioneering new worlds. Should humans pursue a future in space? What will the future of space exploration look like? Would you want to be on the first crewed spaceship to land on Mars? Go ahead, dream big when thinking about what the cosmic future might hold … and how you might fit into it!

Need to Know:
Space: An Out-of-Gravity Experience” is on display at the Science Museum through Monday, September 4. It was designed and developed by the Science Museum of Minnesota in partnership with the International Space Station Office of NASA’s Johnson Space Center, the California Science Center and partner museums. The touring exhibition is presented locally by Markel.

“Space” is available through a combination ticket that includes access to the Science Museum’s regular exhibitions, labs and demos. Admission is $22 for adults; $19 for youth (ages 6-12) and seniors (ages 60 and older); and $15 for preschool-aged children (ages 3-5). Discounts are available for teachers, military personnel and through the Museums for All program. Members receive unlimited free admission to the Science Museum and the touring exhibition. You may purchase tickets on the Science Museum’s website or in person at Guest Services when you arrive.

In addition to hosting the touring exhibition, the Science Museum is offering a variety of complementary programming throughout the building all summer. Details are available on the Science Museum’s website. It has also added two new astronomy shows to help you explore the vastness of space on the largest screen in Virginia. “We Are Guardians” showcases the role satellite monitoring plays in understanding how ecosystems are intrinsically connected. “Astronaut: Ocean to Orbit” reveals the high-tech ways NASA uses subaquatic environments to mimic life and work in space. Both experiences in The Dome include seeing the film on the giant screen followed by a live journey through the cosmos with a Science Museum astronomer.

The Dome schedule changes monthly. Visit the Science Museum’s website to check film times. Add a Dome feature to your visit for $5. Guests who qualify for the Museums for All program can add a Dome feature for $1 per person.