Aerospace in Motion
A sector headquarters museum and experience
Northrop Grumman Corporation, 2015
Redondo Beach, California — Open to the public during business hours, Aerospace in Motion tells the story of Northrop Grumman via a ~3,500 sq. ft. interactive adventure through three distinct wings — past, present, and future. Visitors ranging from girl scout troops to congressional reps. and international diplomats are brought up to speed with what people and technologies formed the company, Northrop Grumman's contributions to today's world, and where the company is headed looking forward. Using chronological timelines, models, videos, actual space hardware, video games and interactive media walls, the museum effectively places Northrop Grumman's technology in context before guests are whisked off to tour any of the various aircraft or spacecraft assemblies within Northrop Grumman's Southern California plants.
Upon entering the sector headquarters, guests are met by a set of chrome art deco doors representing the original 1940 building facade of Northrop Aircraft Inc. The doors act as a gathering area to start the tours and hold guests in suspense as our docents set the stage for what they are about to experience. Six hanging banners are displayed above the doors featuring the companies that have come together to form Aerospace Systems — Northrop, Grumman, TRW, Radioplane, Ryan, and Scaled Composites. We also suspended a quarter-scale model of the Spirit of St. Louis above the entrance — a plane compiled of parts from three of our founding companies and famously piloted by Charles Lindbergh in 1927 as the first solo flight from New York to Paris. To compliment the Spirit of St. Louis, we hung Scaled Composites' SpaceshipTwo and WhiteKnight models above the exit as a nod to our future.
Once guests have entered the museum they are typically overwhelmed with head-turning excitement. In the heritage wing, guests experience a chronological model wall of Northrop Grumman's portfolio of aircraft from the 1930s up to present day and a timeline of corporate milestones and acquisitions. Above them, guests find actual space hardware including an original Pioneer I satellite and Apollo mission engine. And the saw tooth wall pictured on the right features artifacts and videos categorized by decade and meticulously written stories covering company milestones and related current events.
Throughout the heritage wing, we included numerous exhibits designed to work for both a tour-guide presentation or as self-guided educational stations. A touch-screen-driven Heritage Cabinet, designed to look like something you might stumble across in your grandfather's attic, provides vintage films for each of the six founding companies, a Lunar Excursion Module station offers intricate models and photos of the first moon landing and a personalized video from our CEO, and Founder's Storybook features bios and stories about each of the founding entrepreneurs that formed this company.
Founder's Corner is a rotating exhibit featuring a projection effect that allows visitors to imagine they're a fly on the wall during some of the company's most ground-breaking milestones. We had originally planned to build this corner as a 3D hologram show but after revisiting our budget, we settled on projected silhouettes. As the silhouettes discuss a significant moment in history, additional projectors animate drawings and design details to bring the set to life.
The current technology wing, or Tunnel of Love as it's affectionately known replicates the experience of coming aboard one of Northrop Grumman's E2-Ds or J-STARS planes. The screens, mesh netting, jump seats and overall architecture compliment a light blue glow, audible engine hum, and piped in radio chatter. The moment one enters this tunnel, they immediately feel the sensation that they are somewhere above the clouds executing some important mission. The exciting interactive exhibits understandably cause a bottle neck with our younger groups passing through this section of the museum. In Station I, Design Build Fly, guests are presented with a challenge of a limited budget and have to design their own F/A-18 or F-35. Once their plane is compete they launch the flight simulator and battle the person next to them. Station II is a touch-screen-driven patent database housing every Northrop Grumman patent spanning back to the 1930s. Guests are able to browse all patents or search for someone specific, view the drawings and artwork, and learn fun facts about intellectual property they likely had no idea Northrop Grumman was even involved in. Lastly, our C4ISR stations provide simulated camera feeds from some of Northrop Grumman's unmanned aircraft and environmental satellites. Using these feeds, visitors can locate targets of interest within the museum to advance levels and learn why these targets are significant along the way.
Exiting the Tunnel of Love, visitors find themselves in a dark corner of outer space we named the Science Center. This space was designed to accommodate 20 to 30 elementary school students and features a 3D display globe, Lego models of Northrop Grumman satellites, and benches that respond to touch by flickering blue light at any point of human contact. The globe is connected to NOAA's satellite feed and we are able to demo natural disaster models and weather patterns as well as show students what various planets look like up close and how our satellites orbit those planets to snap photos.
Inspired by the heritage wing and emboldened by Today's Technology, guests emerge from outer space into a brightly lit and engaging Future Wing. In the Spotlight features a rotating exhibit of whatever product is hot at the moment that we wish to feature. A touch-screen display filled with digital content works along side four easily-interchangeable static posters to create a beautiful space that can be quickly swapped out for another program. An Innovation Wall features videos, press and photos of our STEAM challenges and innovative solutions within the company. Guests then pass through a Christie Cube porthole where they meet with life-size employees, take selfies, and interact with a media wall by jumping, waving their arms, and interacting with the people next to them.
Finally visitors are led into the theater where they can watch promotional videos, receive pertinent training if need be, or see a presentation related to their visit. The chairs have pull-out desks to allow for note taking and the room is outfitted for numerous modes of lighting and media uses. Most importantly, with the ample use of Northrop Grumman blue, there is absolutely no question where you are when you're sitting in the middle of this room.