Stunning new exhibits to be unveiled as part of new look space gallery at Science Museum

23/03/2007

The Science Museum’s much-loved space gallery welcomes a host of wonderful new exhibits as part of a major redisplay to be unveiled on the 45th anniversary of the launch of the first UK satellite.

The updated gallery – open on 26 April and to be called Exploring Space – will celebrate our exploration of space so far and investigate the benefits it brings to everyday life. It will highlight some of the many space missions the UK has participated in and examine the stories of some of the scientists behind those missions. The display will include striking objects and images‚ authoritative text and interactive displays.

Doug Millard‚ Space Curator at the Science Museum‚ said: “Space displays have always been one of the Science Museum’s most popular attractions and with Exploring Space we are proud to introduce a range of new exhibits for visitors to enjoy. The missions we cover are amazing and we hope they will interest our millions of visitors and inspire more students to follow careers in science and technology.”

Key new exhibits include the Spacelab 2 X-ray telescope – the actual huge instrument that was flown on the Space Shuttle‚ full-size models of the Huygens Titan probe and Beagle 2 Mars Lander‚ the Hubble Space Telescope’s flight spare Faint Object Camera detector and an amazing computer-generated animation of the satellites that orbit Earth. And with the Moon back at the top of many space agencies agendas the Museum has conserved and reconfigured its lunar module to a new level of accuracy.

Standing over three metres high and weighing 600 kg‚ the Spacelab 2 X-ray telescope will be one of the largest exhibits in the space gallery. It went into space on the Challenger Shuttle in 1985 and was the first instrument to image the centre of our galaxy at high energy X-ray levels The University of Birmingham team that designed and built the telescope has re-assembled it especially for the Museum.

Huygens was the first spacecraft to touch down on the mysterious Titan – Saturn’s largest moon – in 2005. This European Space Agency probe – part of the larger Cassini-Huygens mission – spent seven years travelling over 2 billion miles to reach an alien world that resembles aspects of primordial Earth.

Beagle 2‚ the Mars lander with the European Space Agency’s Mars Express mission‚ was lost in 2003 after apparently crash-landing on the Red Planet. However Beagle’s innovative miniaturisation will pave the way for future planetary missions‚ and is already helping to improve medical technologies here on Earth.

A mesmerising animation of Earth surrounded by its swarms of artificial satellites represents the sheer number and variety of spacecraft that have been put into orbit in the fifty years since Sputnik 1. And with 26 April marking the 45th anniversary of Ariel 1 – the first satellite to carry UK scientific experiments – this Science Museum gallery redevelopment‚ supported by EADS‚ British National Space Centre (BNSC) and the Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council (PPARC)‚ will mark the history and current status of space exploration.

Mr Millard added: “We are celebrating 50 years of the space age but perhaps the best is yet to come: today’s students are tomorrow’s explorers and we hope this new display will have something to stimulate their imaginations‚ whet their appetites and start them aiming for the stars.”

Ends

For more information‚ interviews and images contact Richard Purnell‚ press officer‚ on 020 7942 4357 or email richard.purnell@sciencemuseum.org.uk.

Visitor information: Science Museum is open daily from 10am – 6pm. Nearest tube is South Kensington. For more information visit www.sciencemuseum.org.uk or call 0870 870 4868.

Notes to Editors

1. This gallery redevelopment is supported by EADS and BNSC and PPARC.

2. EADS is a global leader in aerospace‚ defence and related services. The Group includes the aircraft manufacturer Airbus‚ the world's largest helicopter supplier Eurocopter‚ and the joint venture MBDA‚ the international leader in missile systems. EADS is the major partner in the Eurofighter consortium and develops the A400M military transport aircraft. It also includes Astrium. Europe’s leading space company which is the prime contractor for the Ariane launcher‚ the largest industrial partner for the European satellite navigation system Galileo‚ and a world leader in satellites and satellite services.

EADS employs about 113‚000 people at more than 70 production sites‚ above all in France‚ Germany‚ Great Britain and Spain as well as in the U.S. and Australia.

3. BNSC (British National Space Centre) is at the heart of UK efforts to explore and exploit space. Formed from 11 Government Departments and research councils they co-ordinate UK civil space activity‚ support academic research‚ nurture the UK space industry and work to increase understanding of space science and its practical benefits.

4. The Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council (PPARC) is the UK’s strategic science investment agency. It funds research‚ education and public understanding in four areas of science - particle physics‚ astronomy‚ cosmology and space science.
PPARC is government funded and provides research grants and studentships to scientists in British universities‚ gives researchers access to world-class facilities and funds the UK membership of international bodies such as the European Laboratory for Particle Physics (CERN)‚ and the European Space Agency. It also contributes money for the UK telescopes overseas on La Palma‚ Hawaii‚ Australia and in Chile‚ the UK Astronomy Technology Centre at the Royal Observatory‚ Edinburgh and the MERLIN/VLBI National Facility‚ which includes the Lovell Telescope at Jodrell Bank observatory.