SKETCH Foundation Air and Space Exhibits

Fact Sheet

The SKETCH Foundation Air and Space Exhibits, located in Science Court, is uniquely positioned to offer visitors a one-of-a-kind experience, through interactive exhibits coupled with real air and spacecraft, providing a balanced program that is not simply a history of air and space.

Visitors will learn that:

  • understanding how air flows allows us to create machines that can fly
  • using telescopes to collect starlight helps us to learn about the universe
  • sheltering and protecting our bodies enables us to journey into space
  • sending missions to the planets helps us to understand our solar system

Exhibits are presented in four themed areas and will provide an overview of the major challenges of aeronautics and space exploration through the use of interactive exhibits and artifacts. The four areas are:

  • Air + Aircraft
  • Stars + Telescopes
  • Humans in Space
  • Mission to the Planets

At a computer kiosk, visitors make design choices for a spacecraft based on the type of mission that is chosen. The spacecraft is then “launched” and the visitor sees a video that provides information about the destination. The Mission Highlights exhibit provides the latest information on actual missions to the planets.

Visitors exploring theme areas can also:

  • control moving surfaces on a 1/10th scale model of the Northrop F-20 Tigershark to see how the aircraft responds in simulated flight. The real F-20 is suspended above this interactive exhibit.
  • Put on wings and step into a large wind tunnel to feel the force that lifts aircraft into the air
  • Experience the challenge of launching a rocket into space by turning a crank that accelerates a model rocket to a height of 40 feet.
  • flight test a paper aircraft using a custom launcher and one of four wing shape options (long straight, short straight, delta or swept wings)
  • use a computer to design either commercial, military, recreational or experimental aircraft while surrounded by the Science Center’s collection of real aircraft consisting of different wing forms and materials.
  • Conduct a simulated test flight of the 1903 Wright Flyer by using the hips to control the wing warping of the aircraft just like Wrights did in December 1903.

Exhibit Artifact Highlights:

Air & Aircraft (all suspended):

  • Northrop F-20 Tigershark supersonic jet fighter (last one in existence)
  • Northrop T-38 Talon supersonic jet trainer  1929 Velie Monocoup
  • 1902 Wright Glider flying replica
  • 1893 Lilienthal Glider flying replica

Stars and Telescopes

  • Hubble Space Telescope (1/5th scale)
  • Chandra Observatory (1/5th scale)
  • Spitzer Observatory (1/5th scale)
  • Uhuru 9 (x-ray astronomy satellite, suspended)
  • Aerobee Rocket Nose Cone (flown sounding rocket nose cone with atmospheric research payload)

Humans in Space:

  • Mercury-Redstone 2 capsule (carried Ham, a chimpanzee, on a short flight)
  • Gemini 11 capsule (flown by astronauts Pete Conrad and Dick Gordon)
  • Apollo-Soyuz Command Module (flown by astronauts Tom Stafford, Vance Brand and Deke Slayton during the historic space rendezvous with Russian cosmonauts Alexei Leonev and Valery Kubasov)
  • Apollo spacesuit (worn by astronaut Thomas Mattingly during Apollo 16 mission)
  • Moon rock (presented by NASA to Dr. Buzz Aldrin)

Mission to Planets:

  • Pioneer 10 engineering model (suspended)
  • Viking Lander engineering model (first spacecraft to successfully land on Mars)
  • Mariner 4 replica (suspended)
  • Sputnik 1 replica (Russian – first artificial spacecraft to orbit Earth, October 1957)
  • Explorer 1 replica (first American spacecraft to orbit Earth, January 1958)
  • Cassini-Huygens engineering model (actual spacecraft has been in orbit around Saturn since 2004)
  • Orion Sounding Rocket (flown)

Exhibits Shown Outdoors:

  • A-12 Blackbird spy plane (only trainer ever built and predecessor of SR-71 Blackbird; next to parking structure)
  • Douglas DC-8 passenger jetliner (on State Drive)
  • Lockheed F-104 Starfighter supersonic jet (suspended on side of former gallery)


Kenneth E. Phillips, Ph.D.