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By Roger Highfield on

Broadcasting from the Tomorrow’s World gallery to the world

Science Museum Director of External Affairs Roger Highfield explores tonight's Space themed Science Museum Lates, where the BBC will be launching a new live interactive show.

Tomorrow’s World launches a new live and interactive BBC show tonight at our space-themed Lates, and you can watch live online or via Facebook.

Silent Disco in the Exploring Space Gallery © Jody Kingzett

Joining the adults-only audience will be a galaxy of well-known names, from TV presenters Hannah Fry and Kevin Fong to meteorite expert Monica Grady, the UK Space Agency’s Libby Jackson and astrobiologist and author Lewis Dartnell of the University of Westminster.

What will space exploration look like within our lifetimes? How will it change things here on Earth?

With the help of our audience in the museum’s Tomorrow’s World gallery, the Wellcome Trust, Royal Society and Open University, the BBC will webcast the Tomorrow’s World Live: Move to Mars online and via Facebook Live.

In the webcast, we will be asking today’s top scientists how space is shaping our future.

Dr Hannah Fry of UCL, who helped launch the Tomorrow’s World initiative in the Science Museum and presented Britain’s Greatest Invention on BBC2, will join Prof Lewis Dartnell and Sheldon Paquin, who is curating the museum’s forthcoming Superbugs: The Fight For Our Lives exhibition, to talk bugs in space.

The Open University’s Monica Grady will reveal what we can learn from meteorites and, to help find out who could be suitable to go on the long journey to Mars, the Wellcome Trust will provide enlightenment with researchers from the Sleep and Circadian Neuroscience Institute to find out how your sleeping pattern might affect how good an astronaut you’d be.

Planet Science and the Yuri Gagarin display in the Exploring Space gallery

You’ll be able to make a supernova with the Royal Society, who will be bringing you the best of their space research projects and Summer Science exhibits. As one example, you can join Dr Leigh Fletcher of the University of Leicester as he reveals the latest discoveries on the Solar System’s giant planets, and discusses the next steps in our exploration of these distant worlds.

The Society will also provide an opportunity to meet members from the LIGO Scientific Collaboration as they present the incredible instruments that confirmed gravitational waves, which were glimpsed only recently after first being predicted by Einstein’s general theory of relativity (unveiled in1915), and offer a new way to view the universe.

As part of this Lates, and the UK-Russia Year of Science and Education, a bust of the first cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin will be unveiled by the Chairman of the Board of Trustees Dame Mary Archer and Science Museum Group and Museum Director Ian Blatchford.

On the unveiling, Space curator Doug Millard remarked: “In 2011 a statue to the first man in space, Yuri Gagarin, was unveiled in London. The occasion marked the 50th anniversary of both his pioneering space mission and visits to London and Manchester in the summer of 1961 when he drew crowds in their thousands.”

Gagarin was both a Hero of the Soviet Union and a global celebrity. His image was recreated in its hundreds of thousands – from postage stamps, posters and desk-top souvenirs to the statues and friezes scattered throughout Russia and the former USSR.

The London statue can now be seen at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich but from today a new bust of the first cosmonaut will be displayed at the Science Museum. The work – a bronze bust showing Gagarin in his space helmet – is the work of sculptor Alexei D Leonov and has been presented to the Museum by the International Charity Public Fund ‘Dialogue of Cultures – United World’.

Bronze bust of Yuri Gagarin

The bust will stand in the Museum’s Exploring Space gallery and, said Millard, “marks both humanity’s first flight into space but also Gagarin’s still powerful presence as a cultural signifier of heroism and achievement.”

The Science Museum is filled with other iconic space artefacts from Tim Peake’s Soyuz capsule which is also on display in the museum, before it moves to the National Science and Media Museum in Bradford next month, along with an exhibition that celebrates of the life of the first woman in space, Valentina Tereshkova.

Another BBC Tomorrow’s World webcast is planned for the Manchester Science Festival in October.