Local Exhibitions And Partnerships Will Expand Pittsburgh’s Space Ecosystem

Northside Community set to be an anchor for new initiatives

At an event held at Carnegie Science Center this evening, officials from Carnegie Science Center and Astrobotic made several announcements that will expand the emerging SPACE ecosystem in the region. A keynote address was delivered by Dr. Thomas Zurbuchen, Associate Administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters, who highlighted the benefits of public-private partnerships in the space industry.

Jason Brown, Henry Buhl Jr., Director, Carnegie Science Center announced the construction of a new 7,000 square foot exhibition gallery with the working title, Our Destiny in Space. “Expected to open in the fall of 2022, the big idea for Our Destiny in Space is that the questions that will face the future of humans living on Mars are the same as those we face on Earth today,” said Brown. The project team charged with developing the concepts for the exhibition gallery worked with educators, community members from neighborhoods in Pittsburgh’s North Side, and students from Pittsburgh Public School District’s Taylor Allderdice High School to understand what ideas were relevant and vital to them and then, based on their input, developed concepts for an immersive exhibition that demonstrates how science supports their ideas and inspires everyone to imagine a better future on Earth as well as a different planet.

“The exhibition gallery will be presented through the lens of Mars and embrace concepts from the Earth to the Moon to Mars,” said Brown. The process we are using to develop it also illustrates our commitment to greater access and inclusion of the audiences we wish to engage.”

The announcement comes just weeks after the Moonshot Museum announced that it will open in Summer 2022 in space donated by Astrobotic at its new headquarters in the Northside’s Manchester neighborhood. It is the first Museum in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to focus exclusively on space and will offer an opportunity unparalleled in both museums and aerospace technology to see real spacecraft as they’re being built in real time, right here in Pittsburgh. The Moonshot Museum’s mission is to make space more accessible and inspire a diverse audience to find their place in the future of human space exploration through innovative programming and groundbreaking exhibitions.

What began as a quest for content experts for Carnegie Science Center’s space exhibition gallery quickly evolved into an exciting new opportunity to celebrate and embrace the region’s growing foothold in the Space industry. To that end, Brown and John Thornton, CEO of Astrobotic, announced a new collaboration with multiple partners including Moonshot Museum, the Readiness Institute at Penn State, Discovery Space at State College, and the Keystone Space Collaborative, the region’s (PA, OH, WV) space industry group. Using SPACE as a rich, exciting, and expansive topic in science, the partners will construct a different way of engaging audiences and intentionally design “on-ramps” to opportunities in the sciences that may not have been accessible to all. This means connecting students over the course of their education directly to our region’s growing Space industry, including opportunities to learn alongside the professionals who are building it today.

“Through Moonshot Museum’s innovative local partnership with Carnegie Science Center, Pittsburgh’s Northside is poised to become ‘the place for space’ on par with more traditionally thought of space coast cities,” says Sam Moore, Executive Director of Moonshot Museum. “The Moonshot Museum’s focus on the Moon and behind the scenes, career readiness-driven looks at the space industry paired with the Science Center’s innovative exhibition on Mars exploration forms the foundation for a larger statewide partnership that maps out an unprecedented PreK through Career pathway for young people to engage with space concepts and find their place in the future of space exploration.”

“The opportunity presented by this partnership is very exciting,” said Jason Brown, Director of Carnegie Science Center. “It includes new exhibitions at multiple locations as well as programming for a wide range of students, from early learners to those on the verge of joining the workforce. We are also exploring opportunities to engage our community in a Northside Space Experience between and around our facilities.”

The six partners each bring their own people, influence, expertise, and opportunities to an expanding initiative focused on the next phase of human space exploration designed for students around the state to find success in the growing regional space industry and beyond.

“Imagine a learner of nearly any age inspired by trips to the exhibitions and/or participating in a supporting program at one of the science centers or a Penn State campus – supported by professionals from Astrobotic or one of the many other companies and organizations represented by the Keystone Space Collaborative,” said Brown. “The goal of this initiative is to make space accessible to all – especially marginalized groups or those underrepresented in STEM – by first lighting the fires of inspiration and then clearing the barriers to entry.”

Space is a massive and growing $425 billion industry being driven by commercial space companies like Astrobotic. The Moonshot Museum and Carnegie Science Center’s focus on workforce and career and community readiness for this new space ecosystem will not just boost the Pittsburgh region as a cultural tourism asset but will inspire a generation to write the future of human space exploration right here in Pittsburgh.

“Exciting work is happening here in the Steel City, and there are countless opportunities to get involved in the work of space right here in Western Pennsylvania,” says Moore.