Moonshot Museum is thrilled to announce the appointment of space education innovator and science communicator Mike Hennessy as its first-ever Manager of Learning & Programs. In his new role, Mike will captain content creation and develop programs for Moonshot, the first space museum in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the first museum on the planet to focus on career and community readiness for the 21st century space industry. Prior to this new role, Hennessy spent more than 20 years crafting innovative programs at Carnegie Science Center, where he managed a steampunk science theater with a working foundry and built a fleet of ten traveling outreach programs. Most recently, Hennessy served as Buhl Planetarium & Digital Media Manager, where he directed development of live, theatric planetarium shows in partnership with NASA and the Institute of Museum and Library Services.
As an introduction, we asked Mike a few questions about this new role, his love for space, and yes—the age old question—Star Wars or Star Trek?
Why Moonshot, Mike?
Katherine Johnson reflected on her work with Project Mercury: “The whole idea of going into space was new and daring. There were no textbooks, so we had to write them.” In this same spirit of NASA’s first flights into space, Moonshot is pioneering a whole new model for what a museum can be! Visitors will be captivated by lunar landers under construction today, then immersed in a lunar colony of tomorrow.
We will motivate budding young inventors through a showcase of space technology. We will nurture growing citizens to craft community through mission-based role play. We will empower students to join a growing space industry right here in Pittsburgh!
Why Moonshot? This will be a field trip to our future on the Moon, and an invitation to build our best future on Earth.
What’s happening in space right now that you’re most excited about?
The Artemis Adventure is at hand! I’m excited for NASA’s uncrewed test flight of Artemis 1 in March, the Astrobotic lunar lander Peregrine’s voyage to the Moon’s ancient lava flows of Lacus Mortis, and the Griffin expedition that will follow in 2023 to deliver NASA’s VIPER rover to the Moon’s shadowy Nobile crater on its quest for water ice.
I’m eagerly awaiting several summer blockbusters: first light from the James Webb Space Telescope, and the launch of NASA’s Psyche spacecraft to its namesake metallic asteroid. I’m rooting for the unsung heroes of 2022: four new NASA Earth Science missions to study cyclones, surface water, oceans, and even wind-blown mineral dust. The more we observe from orbit, the better we can conserve the diversity of life on our blue marble.
Star Wars or Star Trek?
Space. The Final Frontier. These are the voyages of the Starship Moonshot. To boldly go where no museum has gone before!
Best Trek Movie: Wrath of Khan
Favorite Trek Movie: The One with the Whales
Kirk or Picard: The Sisko
If you could have one job in the space industry other than Manager of Learning & Programs with Moonshot Museum, what would it be?
How can I top a dream job with Moonshot? That’s tough. How about a trip aboard the International Space Station as an educator in space, playing in that microgravity lab, with a view of Earth out my window, beaming back daily science and geography lessons to students around the globe?
What are you most excited to dig into with Moonshot Museum?
For me, there are few things better than viewing the Full Moon through a telescope. It becomes “real” on a whole new level. I feel like I can reach out and touch the silver plains and white powdery rays on our cosmic, cratered companion. The Moonshot Museum is a telescope view into our future, and it is uniquely poised to make that future real for students- in a tangible, empowering way.
I’m excited to learn from our partners at Astrobotic, to share stories of regional role models in the space industry, and connect students with the career opportunities out there waiting for them. Scientific progress is based on countless human stories of grit and joy, and I can’t wait to tell those stories.
Ultimately, I’m most excited to work with the students who will come through our doors! I’ll be both a teacher and a learner as we embark on this educational experiment together.
Stay tuned for more from Mike and Team Moonshot in the year ahead! Want to connect? Send us an email anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org.