Seattle's Child

Your guide to a kid-friendly city

‘Home Beyond Earth’ exhibit is out of this world

Imagine living in space at the Museum of Flight

“One day, there will be more humans living off the Earth than on it,” predicted NASA Administrator Michael Griffin.

Sounds far-fetched? Maybe, maybe not.

The new “Home Beyond Earth” exhibit at the Museum of Flight explores what it means to live in space. You can compare space stations past, present, future—and science fiction. The exhibit includes more than 50 artifacts, models, and space-flown objects.

“Home Beyond Earth” opened in June and is on view through January 20, 2025.

Play to learn

The crown jewel of the exhibit (from a kid’s perspective, for sure) is an interactive game that takes you on a personalized space journey. Anytime you can turn a learning experience into a game, that’s a win in our books. Lots more on this game in a bit.

“Home Beyond Earth” unfolds over three galleries, about half the footprint of the Red Barn, the building at the center of the Museum of Flight’s sprawling campus. The Red Barn was the original Boeing factory, a perfectly apt place to imagine where human travel may go.

You’ll see both science present and future represented here. “Some of this future stuff is very near future,” says museum spokesman Ted Huette. There’s a model from Blue Origin in Kent, a top contender for replacing the International Space Station (ISS) when it retires.

You can learn about growing plants in space. You can listen to an astronaut describe painting in space with a ball of water stuck to the tip of her brush. Like me, you might hear a “This is amazing!” or “I didn’t know that.”

Earth Beyond Home exhibit

A scale model of the Interational Space Center built by UW engineering students. Photo by JiaYing Grygiel

A made-in-Seattle exhibit

The Museum of Flight developed the exhibit in-house with partners like the University of Washington. UW engineering students built a 1:100 scale model of the ISS almost completely by 3-D printing. The students used NASA data to link their model with the space station in real-time, so the solar panels on the model move just like the ones on the real ISS.

“That was one of our more fun partnerships,” Huetter says. “It’s something you don’t see everywhere.”

Don’t miss this photo op: You can pretend you’re in the space station’s cupola, microgravity not included.

Some of the artifacts on display are from the museum’s collection, while others are on loan from NASA, industry, and private collections.

One artifact is a Skylab tool on loan from the Smithsonian Institution. Skylab was the United States’ first space station, and it suffered a near-disaster on launch. Astronauts had to make some special tools to rescue the mission, one of which is on display.

Skylab was launched in 1973, and its 50th anniversary last year was the inspiration for this exhibit.

Home Beyond Earth exhibit

Waypoint 5 compiles data from all visitors. Photo by JiaYing Grygiel

Pick your own space journey

The interactive game was developed by the museum’s own exhibit staff. Scan the QR code on the passport, and imagine your life in space.

  • Waypoint 1: Pick up a passport card at the exhibit entrance—it’s yours to keep as a cool little souvenir. Select your avatar and name.
  • Waypoint 2: Choose your home station from a selection of historical, future, and conceptual mockups of space stations.
  • Waypoint 3: Choose your occupation. You’ll mark some of your interests (puzzles and games? travel? movies?). Then, pick a job (sports star? archaeologist? influencer?).

“In the past, if you were to go to space, you probably had to be a test pilot or a PhD or some sort of scientific field,” Huetter says. “Space is now opening up to people of all physical types and abilities. So that’s a way for people to say, ‘Hey, I want to be an artist in space.’ Someday, we will need artists in space.”

  • Waypoint 4: Think about why you’re going into space, what you’ll have on your space station, and what you’ll bring with you. Maybe you want to solve a problem on Earth, and you’d like a state-of-the-art laboratory. Or maybe you’re like some kids I know, and you want to take a vacation at an all-inclusive space waterpark.
  • Waypoint 5: The final station tallies up all the answers of all the travelers. It continues compiling real data every day, through the duration of the exhibit, so you’ll see TMoF station grow and change. 

You can scroll through the list to find your own profile and see what jobs and space stations other people picked. When we visited, we saw a couple of space traffic controllers, some rock stars, and inexplicably zero sanitation workers.

Home Beyond Earth exhibit

One way to keep young kids engaged is having them sketch as they go through the exhibit. Photo by JiaYing Grygiel

Age recommendation: Elementary school and up

There is a lot of text on the walls, which is hard if you don’t know how to read. You can watch video interviews with the astronauts instead. It is also very hard when your baby brother runs off, but you’re waiting for your turn at a waypoint. There can be a bit of a backup at each waypoint, so you’ll need to bring your patience. 

Or bring a composition notebook. We saw a tiny future astronaut explore the exhibit with her own notebook and Crayola washable marker in hand, sketching as she went. Genius mom hack.

I asked my kids, 9 and 13, what grade they’d give this exhibit. Their answer: 1000%. 


Read more:

Museum of Illusions: Believe it when you see it

Saving lives through No More Under

Head out on the road with 5 nearby family road trips


About the Author

JiaYing Grygiel

JiaYing Grygiel is a photographer and writer in Seattle. Find her on Instagram @photoj.seattle and at