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On July 20, 1969, astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed in the Lunar Module Eagle and became the first humans to step foot on the lunar surface while astronaut Michael Collins orbited above inside the Command Module, Columbia. Here is a collection of objects from that historic mission.
In March 1962, Administrator of NASA James Webb suggested that artists be enlisted to document the historic effort to send the first human beings to the Moon. The resulting program dispatched artists to NASA facilities with an invitation to paint whatever interested them. Transferred to the National Air and Space Museum in 1975, the NASA art collection remains one of the most important elements of what has become perhaps the world's finest collection of aerospace themed art.
Throughout their history, posters have been a significant means of mass communication, often with striking visual effect. The posters in the collection are significant both for their esthetic value and because they are a unique representation of the cultural, commercial, and military history of aviation during a significant period of its technological and social development.
Spaceflight and the use of rockets and missiles is not a uniquely American concept. From the time that the Chinese first harnessed the power of explosive power into rockets, through the dawn of the aviation age, individuals and groups throughout the world pondered on the next stage of flight. This collection explores international innovations in spaceflight.
The propulsion collection includes reciprocating and rotary internal combustion and gas turbine engines, propellers, and the components and support technologies, or accessories, that deliver the needed air, water, fuel, and oil to an engine. All of these artifacts reveal the multiple approaches used to improve the performance of the airplane during the 20th century.
Among this collection's highlights are: the world’s best collection of artifacts from American rocket pioneer Robert Goddard, an extensive collection of German World War II missile and rocket artifacts, a large number of American Cold War missiles and launch vehicles, and rocket engines from small thrusters to a gigantic F-1 motor from the Saturn V Moon rocket.
Pioneer aviators became household names and their flights catapulted them into fame and celebrity. The objects of popular culture in the National Collection display everything from ashtrays to wristwatches that reflect the public fascination with aviation and the powerful commercial response to feats of the air.
The Social and Cultural Dimensions of Spaceflight Collection includes over 4500 individual pieces of space memorabilia and space science fiction objects, including toys and games, clothing and stamps, medals and awards, and buttons and pins, as well as comics and trading cards.
The space sciences collection includes objects ranging from engineering models, components, and prototypes to mockups and models representing the full range of scientific activities performed on space vehicles, including both suborbital and orbital satellites, probes, and landers, as well as missions flown into orbits around other celestial bodies, including the moon, other planets, the Sun, and the Earth’s Lagrangian points.
The invention of the balloon struck the men and women of the late 18th century like a thunderbolt. Enormous crowds gathered in Paris to watch one balloon after another rise above the city rooftops, carrying the first human beings into the air in the closing months of 1783. The National Air and Space Museum maintains one of the world's great collections of objects and images documenting and celebrating the invention and early history of the balloon.