The Franklin Institute
Space shuttle icon

Exploration and imagination intersect in the Space Command exhibition. The phases of the Moon come into focus as you learn about Earth’s only natural satellite. Construct a rover and see how it fares on a rocky terrain. Spin a ball into the Gravity Well and see centripetal force in action.

Explore neighboring planets including where they are, how they move, and what they’re made of. Discover how the sun impacts each planet in the solar system by providing the light and heat necessary to maintain planetary conditions. You’ll experience the excitement of space exploration and develop an out-of-this-world appreciation for the night sky.

Things to Do and See in Space Command

  • "Reflections of Greatness" mural of an Astronaut in space, with ISS reflected and Earth in the background.
    Reflections of Greatness Mural

    Painted by Philadelphia artists Evan Lovett and Frank Chapell, the mural depicts an astronaut in space. The International Space Station is reflected in the astronaut’s mask, with sunrise over Earth in the background.

  • Four screens in the Space Command exhibit display live images from the International Space Station
    Mission Control

    New for the Space exhibit are 4 displays with live data from the International Space Station including current position, crew, and upcoming passes of the ISS that will be visible from Philadelphia.

  • View of Scope Lobby, displaying antique microscopes and telescopes.
    Scope Lobby

    Just inside the 20th Street entrance, a new gallery of antique microscopes and telescopes brings to life the ways humans have used lenses to look outward and inward for hundreds of years. 

  • Mechanical Geochron Clock shows areas of day and night overlaid on a backlit map of the world.
    Mechanical Geochron Global Time Indicator

    This world clock displays night and day overlaid on a world map, showing areas of light and darkness. An intricate clockwork mechanism controls the date and time. As each day progresses, the clock’s gears cause the backlit world map to scroll from left to right.

  • A screen in Planetarium Hallway displays a feed of Amateur astronomy photos with a new featured image each week.
    Planetarium Hallway

    Planetarium Hallway now features 8 screens displaying live and curated content from NASA and our Chief Astronomer, Derrick Pitts, with live feeds from the Hubble Telescope, Mars Curiosity Rover, upcoming rocket launches and more.

  • Still image of video displaying the launch of space shuttle mission STS-135.
    STS-135 Launch Video

    Experience the launch of STS-135, the 135th and final mission of the American Space Shuttle program. It launched on July 8, 2011, and landed on July 21. Watch and listen to NASA crew as the Shuttle takes off.

  • Children playing with the gravity well interactive at the Space Command exhibit at The Franklin Institute.
    Spin a Ball into the Gravity Well

    Experiment with centripetal force in action.

  • Two young girls touching the meteorite in the Space Command permanent exhibit at The Franklin Institute.
    Touch a Real Meteorite

    At over 50 million years old, the meteorite is the oldest thing you'll ever touch!

  • Three children building model Mars rovers out of K'nex in the Space Command exhibit at The Franklin Institute.
    Build a Mars Rover using K'Nex

    Will your rover be tough enough to navigate the harsh terrain on Mars?

  • Rugged Rovers in Space Command at The Franklin Institute
    Design a Rugged Rover

    Design and draw your own rover, launch it onto the simulated terrain, and see if your design is rugged enough to go the distance.

Interactive Map



Map of the first floor, showing the locations of major, permanent exhibits, the Planetarium, and Foucault’s Pendulum.
Map of the first floor, showing the locations of major, permanent exhibits, the Planetarium, and Foucault’s Pendulum.