The museum allows you to follow your curiosity and make personal connections with the themes of space, communication, flight and inventions. On this Expedition, we’ll explore authentic objects and fascinating stories to discover how science and technology transform and improve o
Together we have found ways of sending people into space and helping them survive there. Discoveries and inventions spurred by space travel, from wireless technology to methods of food production, improve our lives on Earth.
Exploring Space Gallery
This gallery showcases out-of-this world objects, reflecting our curiosity about worlds beyond our own. Many of the objects on display are real, although never launched into space, and others are life-sized replicas.
Future plans include returning to the Moon and visiting Mars. The first footprint on another planet could be yours...
J2 Engine, 1966
This engine type was used by the Saturn V rockets, built to carry the first people to the Moon. Each engine burned liquid hydrogen fuel in liquid oxygen to accelerate the rocket into Earth’s orbit and then towards the Moon.
Replica of the Huygens Titan Lander, 1997
An international team of people designed this space probe to explore one of Saturn’s moons, Titan. Parachutes allowed the probe to land slowly and safely. It collected data that tells us about the atmosphere and surface of Titan.
Black Arrow R4, 1971
Black Arrow was Britain’s only satellite launcher. It delivered its satellite, Prospero, into orbit to collect research data. Thousands of satellites now orbit Earth. They enable us to watch TV, talk on our phones, map locations and predict the weather.
Replica of the Apollo 11 Lunar Module
The Lunar Module landed astronauts on the surface of Earth’s Moon for the first time. The lower stage was then used as a launch platform when the upper stage left the Moon’s surface. Gold-coloured thermal insulation protected the lower stage from extreme temperatures.
Making the Modern World Gallery
This gallery shows amazing and important inventions from our history. They changed our lives and influence the way we work, play and communicate today.
Stories behind many of these inventions involve people being curious about how things work or having a creative idea about how something could work better. Your idea could be the next big thing...
Reynolds’s X-ray Set, 1896
X-rays are beams of energy used to produce images of our bodies’ insides. While still at school, Russell Reynolds was curious about X-ray beams, and, with his father, built this machine to explore them more.
Rocket Locomotive, 1829
Robert Stephenson’s Rocket won a competition held by the Liverpool and Manchester Railway. Its speed and reliability influenced British steam locomotives, enabling the first fast passenger trains. Steam locomotives were replaced by diesel and electric engines, which we use today.
The Eilean Glas Light, 1907
This lighthouse lens helped sailors navigate Scottish coastlines. Concentric rings of glass combine to make one huge lens. The lens focused the gas light into three powerful beams so it can be seen far away and in bad weather.
Swan’s Lamp and Edison’s Lamp, 1879
The first light bulbs, invented separately by Joseph Swan and Thomas Edison, used electricity to heat a carbon filament. Limited oxygen in the bulb stops the filament from catching fire. Today’s incandescent light bulbs still use the same principle.
Information Age Gallery
In this gallery, you can discover examples of information and communication technology that transformed our world. The objects tell stories of people who invented, operated, used and were affected by new communication technology developments that changed how we work, play and socialize today.
Tuning Coil from Rugby Radio Station, 1943
This giant framework of wood and copper wires was part of Rugby Radio Station’s transmitter. The very-low-frequency transmissions were first used for sending telegrams to people around the world and later to maintain contact with Britain’s nuclear-armed submarines.
Mobile Phone Call Box from Cameroon, 2012
Call boxes in Cameroon made phone communication possible for more people by selling low-cost calls on borrowed phones. Many students and young women ran call box businesses, which gave them independence and new skills in mobile phone repair.
Google Corkboard Server Rack, 1998
An early version of Google’s search engine used these server racks. To search the World Wide Web efficiently, thousands of servers are needed. They receive requests and send back information, enabling us to work, play and communicate on the Internet.
Marconi 1.5 kW Transmitter from 2LO, 1922
‘This is 2LO calling’. These words began British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) transmissions. This London transmitter was the first of a network of BBC radio stations across the UK that brought information, music and entertainment directly into people’s homes.
A few hundred years ago, the closest we could get to flying was watching creatures such as birds or bats, and trying to copy their techniques. The objects in this gallery showcase ideas and designs that different people have tried over the years to take humans into the sky.
From the first successful (and unsuccessful!) flying machines, to the jumbo jets now used by millions of people every day.
‘Jason I’ de Havilland Gipsy Moth, 1928
Amy Johnson was the first British woman to be licensed as an aircraft ground engineer. Using her expertise and skills, she flew long distances. In this aircraft, she became the first female pilot to fly solo from Britain to Australia.
Alcock and Brown’s Vickers Vimy Biplane, 1919
In this aircraft, John Alcock and Arthur W. Brown made the first non-stop flight across the Atlantic. Flying through a snowstorm, Arthur climbed out of the cockpit in mid-air to clear ice from the fuel gauge.
Hawker Hurricane, 1938
These fighter planes were crucial during the Battle of Britain in the Second World War. They were flown by pilots from many different countries, and supported on the ground by the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force and many volunteers.
Schempp-Hirth Cirrus Glass-fibre Sailplane Glider, 1973
Early gliders were made from wood, steel or aluminium. Built in the 1970s, this glider uses glass fibre and plastic foam, which allowed lighter, smoother, more aerodynamic shapes. Today, engineers build gliders using the lightness and strength of carbon fibre.