Exhibits | Aerospace & Launch Lab

Aerospace: Launch Lab

Blast off with Launch Lab!

You are the engineer for the Museum’s newest hands-on installations in the Aerospace exhibition. Use common materials in unexpected ways to design and test your own flying creations and explore the principles of flight, gravity and airflow along the way.



Rocket Launcher

Design your own rocket at one of our three activity stations and watch how your design decisions affect how far your rocket can fly! You even get to pump up the launcher with compressed air to prepare for blast off.  Which configuration of fins and rudders can make your rocket spin or hit the ceiling? How do different amounts of pressure affect your rocket’s flight? Compare your creations with a friend and experiment with designs to create an amazing flying machine.

Mechanical Paper Airplane LaunchersPaper airplane

Take your paper airplane to a whole new level! Explore how different folding techniques affect your airplane’s lift and thrust - then use our targets to see just how straight your creation can soar. Turbo-charge your paper airplanes with our mechanical launchers, and watch as your plane glides with precision and speed. 

Wind Tubes

Float, flip, swirl, and spin! Float cups, streamers, and a variety of other objects in one of our five specialized wind tubes. How long can you get your object to stay in the tube? Can you construct an object that flies out the top of the tube?

Hover Tables

Use our building materials to design flying objects that ride the current on our hover tables! Modify your design and see just how big of an impact even the smallest changes can have on lift and flight! How long can your creation hover? How high can you go?


Lunar lander


Explore our satellite mapping table and see if you can spot your house. Climb inside our command module and imagine a safe trip back to Earth. Use our spinning disk table to explore the Coriolis effect and test your hand at docking a satellite.  

On loan from the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum and NASA Langley Research Center, other displays in Aerospace showcase a range of real space artifacts from the Apollo era, including astronaut Alan Shepard's flight chair, a prototype of the Apollo 15 Lunar Lander, a moon rock, the actual Mercury capsule which carried the first US animal into orbit and more!