Columnist Leonard David

Going Up? 'Above and Beyond' Museum Exhibit Takes You There

'Above and Beyond' Exhibition
The 'Above and Beyond' exhibition will travel to cities around the world through 2020. (Image credit: Evergreen Exhibitions)

A space elevator, a trip to Mars and futuristic spacecraft propulsion systems, oh my! If you ever want to travel truly "above and beyond" then you'll be interested in a new interactive flight exhibition – one that just launched on a multi-city tour to major science centers and air-and-space museums worldwide.

Called "Up, Faster, Higher, Farther, and Smarter – Above and Beyond," the new education-based exhibition explores five key themes that define flight and space travel.

The unique exhibit made its worldwide debut in Washington, D.C. at Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum on Aug. 1.

Space themes

Among the themes included in the unique exhibit:

International Space Elevator: Ascend to Earth orbit aboard a simulated space elevator of the future. During your ascent, breathtaking scenery, digital displays and a virtual tour guide describe the aircraft, spacecraft and aerospace phenomena.

Marathon to Mars: Are you ready to go to Mars? This Augmented Reality experience invites you to take on the physical and psychological challenges of the marathon journey, and lets you "try on" some potential solutions. You can even earn your own personal "Passport to Mars."

Future Spacecraft: Touch screen media and images of futuristic spacecraft propulsion systems give you a sneak peek at some exciting innovations designed to open up the space frontier to everyone and propel human astronauts farther than ever before.

The Light Stuff: In an interactive hammer strength test and a weight comparison of fuselage sections, test and observe how lightweight composite materials—10 times stronger than steel—are helping aircraft and spacecraft fly farther with less fuel.

Space Junk: Step up to a "Junker" station for a cosmic crusade against debris in space. In this virtual timed challenge, try to eliminate orbital debris surrounding Earth, using your choice of cutting-edge solutions.

Multi-city tour

"Above and Beyond" is designed to be the most interactive exhibition on aerospace ever to tour, with approximately 5,000 square feet of exhibition space, including a 180-degree immersive theater presentation, a high-tech media-rich historical timeline, a simulated space elevator ride, a challenge to design and test a supersonic fighter jet in a virtual high-speed flying competition, and an avatar-based motion-capture group experience that demonstrates flight like a bird.

The exhibit's international multi-city tour will run through 2020. Following its premier at Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum, the 2015-2016 "Above and Beyond" tour schedule will include Dubai, St. Louis, Charleston, South Carolina, Riyadh, Seattle, London, Tokyo and Chicago.

"Above and Beyond" is produced by Evergreen Exhibitions in association with Boeing and in collaboration with NASA and the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum.

For more information on the exhibit, visit:

Leonard David has been reporting on the space industry for more than five decades. He is former director of research for the National Commission on Space and is co-author of Buzz Aldrin's 2013 book "Mission to Mars – My Vision for Space Exploration," published by National Geographic, with a new updated paperback version released in May 2015. Follow us @Spacedotcom, Facebook and Google+. Article published on

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Leonard David
Space Insider Columnist

Leonard David is an award-winning space journalist who has been reporting on space activities for more than 50 years. Currently writing as's Space Insider Columnist among his other projects, Leonard has authored numerous books on space exploration, Mars missions and more, with his latest being "Moon Rush: The New Space Race" published in 2019 by National Geographic. He also wrote "Mars: Our Future on the Red Planet" released in 2016 by National Geographic. Leonard  has served as a correspondent for SpaceNews, Scientific American and Aerospace America for the AIAA. He was received many awards, including the first Ordway Award for Sustained Excellence in Spaceflight History in 2015 at the AAS Wernher von Braun Memorial Symposium. You can find out Leonard's latest project at his website and on Twitter.