Artist rendering of the future One World Connected exhibition, scheduled to open at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. in 2022. Credit: Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum

The Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum has received a $3 million donation from Iridium to support the renovation of the museum’s flagship building on the National Mall. The “One World Connected” exhibition will tell the story of how satellites fostered the ease of making connections across vast distances and provided a new perspective of Earth as humanity’s home. It is part of the museum’s ongoing transformation of all its galleries at the flagship building in Washington, D.C., and is scheduled to open in fall 2022.

“We are grateful to Iridium for this generous gift in support of ‘One World Connected,’” said Teasel Muir-Harmony, space history curator at the museum. “Their support will allow us to bring an outstanding interactive experience to the museum’s visitors and will introduce a new way of learning about this era of globalization.”

The “One World Connected” exhibition will feature an array of satellites and other tools that have increased human connection. The exhibition will ask visitors to consider how global interconnection touches their lives and to imagine how advances in technology might impact our near-future. Some of the key artifacts will include the Sirius FM-4 communications satellite, an original Iridium communications satellite and the Planet Labs “Dove” Earth observation satellite. The center of the exhibition will feature a 10-foot interactive globe that will provide an immersive experience to encourage visitors to begin thinking about the major themes explored throughout the gallery. Visitors will interact directly with the spherical projection on the globe via interactive kiosks that enable deeper dives into the gallery’s key themes, including communication, the natural world, and transportation and navigation.

Iridium was the world’s first commercial satellite communications network operating in low earth orbit, using in-space crosslinks between its satellites to provide truly global and reliable connections for consumers, businesses, governments and NGOs (nongovernmental organizations). The company has about 500 international partners that embed its technologies into their products and build new problem-solving solutions for its growing subscriber base around the world. 

The gallery is located on the west end of the building and will be part of the museum’s reopening this fall. More information about how the museum is transforming all of its exhibitions and revitalizing the building is available. 

The National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C., is located at Sixth Street and Independence Avenue S.W. The Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center is located in Chantilly, Virginia, near Washington Dulles International Airport.