Moonshot Museum, CubeRovers and clean room. Photo by Mike Machosky.

Pittsburgh has never been closer to outer space than right now. And there’s a window on the North Side that you can look through to see space exploration happening in real-time.

The Moonshot Museum opens Saturday, Oct. 15,  inside the headquarters of space/tech company Astrobotic, which has received more than $200 million to deliver a NASA rover to the moon.

“Because the Moonshot Museum is co-located at Astrobotic, visitors will have access to all the contributors who make space exploration happen — engineers, lawyers, writers, designers,” says John Thornton, CEO of Astrobotic and board chair for the Moonshot Museum.

(Space lawyers! Netflix, are you listening? Dibs on that idea for a TV pilot).

Pittsburgh has a lot of great, weird museums, but getting a new one is worth celebrating.

The Moonshot Museum, which NEXTpittsburgh previewed last year, is basically an introduction to today’s booming space industry, which has spawned a number of private companies such as SpaceX and Blue Origin, that often work in concert with government space agencies such as NASA.

The highlight of the museum is the glass-walled station where you can observe scientists and engineers tinkering with Astrobotic’s moon landers and rovers in a bright white “clean room.”

Moonshot Museum shows what living on the moon might be like. Photo by Mike Machosky.

“A clean room is where the air is purified, more than the usual environment,” says Mike Hennessy, manager of learning & programs for the Moonshot Museum. “Imagine a shoebox of air might have millions of particulates in it; a clean room can get that down to 100,000 or even 10,000 particles. And when folks are working in the clean room they have to stay clean too — to make sure that a speck of dust or an eyelash or a bit of makeup doesn’t end up on a delicate sensor.”

The museum also has models of spacecraft, including the rocket that will take the Peregrine Lunar Lander to the moon — and Astrobotic’s CubeRover that will go forth on its surface.

Astrobotic selected a United Launch Alliance rocket to take its Peregrine Lunar Lander to the moon. Photo by Mike Machosky.

Peregrine, which will be the first American lunar lander in 50 years, will bring payloads to the moon’s surface later this year, including scientific instruments from three national space agencies (including 11 from NASA alone), a rover from Carnegie Mellon, and the Hope Moonshot from Penn State Outreach.

The Moonshot Museum’s grand opening celebration takes place on Saturday, Oct. 15, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., with local and national leaders in attendance, giveaways and special activities presented by the Carnegie Science Center, Attack Theater, Mattress Factory, BotsIQ and the Amateur Astronomers Association of Pittsburgh. North Side residents (with proof of address in the 15214, 15233 or 15212 ZIP codes) are invited for a free preview day on Thursday, Oct. 13, from 2 to 7 p.m.

Admission is $10 for adults, $5 for children 3-17, and free for children 2 and under. The museum is located at 1016 N. Lincoln Ave. in Manchester. For more information, visit the website or call 412-314-4111.

Watch as Yinzer Backstage Pass takes you on a behind-the-scenes look at the Moonshot Museum as it was preparing to launch.

Michael Machosky

Michael Machosky is a writer and journalist with 18 years of experience writing about everything from development news, food and film to art, travel, books and music. He lives in Greenfield with his wife, Shaunna, and 10-year old son.