Smithsonian Bringing Drones, Jet Packs and Patrick Stewart to 'Future is Here' Festival

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The actor will hold a Q&A following a screening of "X-Men: Days of Future Past" during the Washington, D.C., festival.

Drones, jet packs and mutants are hitting Washington, D.C., for Smithsonian magazine's second annual "Future is Here" festival.

The three-day festival takes place May 16-18 and will boast technology, science and engineering presentations from Stark Trek's George Takei, astronaut Mae Jemison, Mythbusters' Kari Byron and many more. On Saturday, there will be an advance screening of X-Men: Days of Future Past followed by a Q&A with star Patrick Stewart.

Tickets range from $250 to $350.

In addition, the festival will present live drone flights Saturday inside the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade center near the National Mall. A demonstration of a hydrogen- and nitrogen-powered jet pack also is scheduled to fly on Woodrow Wilson Plaza. Both will be filmed  for upcoming specials on the Smithsonian Channel. 

"We can't promise a jet pack to everybody who comes, but at least you can see whether you really want one," said Michael Caruso, Smithsonian's editor-in-chief.

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Because the jet pack and drones will be in close proximity to the White House, the Smithsonian was required to obtain special clearance from the FAA in order to fly. The jet pack is required to stay below a certain height or risk being shot down. 

Christopher Vo, a roboticist at George Mason University and drone technology educator, will fly the 17-inch-diameter drone; he has taught hundreds of everyday users how to build and fly drones of their own.

“The Future Is Here is one of those rare events that will impact people’s thinking for years to come,” said Stephen Giannetti, vp marketing & advertising at Smithsonian Media. “With the greatest minds in science, technology and sci-fi convening, this will be an amazing and unforgettable three days of engagement, exchange and exploration.”