Above And Beyond is a family-friendly exhibition that aims to unravel the complexity of commonplace flight and the next gen challenges while still contained in a subterranean space at the National Maritime Museum.
While this touring exhibit is American in origin and flavour and acts as a glittering recruitment poster for Boeing, nevertheless the gadgets, games and exhibits do convey how the commonplace notion of human bodies elevated without strings is still a thing of mystery and awe.
And though 8million take to the skies every day and trips into space are no longer the stuff of outlandish sci fi, the species still has the pretensions of Icarus, the imagination of Jules Verne and the adventurous spirit of Neil Armstrong.
Cutting edge technology, explained here, aims to take us further into the unknown, with greater ease and with less stress on the planet’s resources and environment.
Beam-powered propulsion is one such embryonic technology on display. So far the power of a laser to heat the parabolic base of a craft to create thrust has managed a world record elevation for a 12cm craft of 78m.
As the commentary reminds us, it was only 100 years ago that flight itself was getting off the ground so these baby steps are far from a sign that exploration is futile or fanciful. One of these “green” power sources will be the one that breaks the bounds of the solar system.
But, mostly, this exhibition is about glossy experience. A dozen augmented reality, video game and push-button installations explore, for example, how birds fly, how the human body would cope with a trip to Mars and, most impressive, taking an elevator to space.
A poster at the entrance declares that the first person to travel to Mars maybe at school right now. Seems a far cry from removing your shoes at security ahead of a quick hop to Bruges.
Until August 29, Above and Beyond, National Maritime Museum, £9 adult, £6 children