Baker, a squirrel monkey, perches on a model of the Jupiter missile that launched her into space on a sub-orbital flight, along with a rhesus monkey named Able, on May 28, 1959 - fifty years ago. Fruit fly larva and sea urchin eggs also accompanied Able and Baker, who both survived the flight; Able, though, died four days after the flight from a reaction to the anesthetic given during surgery to remove an electrode.
I was struck by the relationship between climate change and spaceflight while rereading lately Jared Diamond’s fascinating 2004 book, Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed. The broad premise of Diamond’s book is that societies have collapsed many times in the past and that we may understand how and why this occurred.
The National Air and Space Museum contains some of the largest artifacts in the world, which presents many unique challenges for handling and displaying. It is up to a small group of individuals, comprised of Collections and Restoration staff, to ensure artifacts are cared for and not damaged. Carrying out these duties are neither easy or for the faint of heart as we frequently utilize heavy equipment, such as forklifts, basket and scissor lifts, cranes, etc., within inches of the artifact. Working with less than an inch is typical as well. Additionally, as the National Air and Space Museum has so many oversized artifacts in its collection, we operate our own tractor trailer to support the museum's 3 locations.
Every year, the Smithsonian holds a huge Kite Festival on the National Mall. The weekend prior to the festival, the National Air and Space Museum has a Kite Family Day where kids and their families can make their own kites, learn how to fly them, and watch indoor kite flying demonstrations. I often search the web to find out what visitors are filming, photographing, blogging and tweeting about the Museum. I found lots of images and videos of the outdoor Kite Festival, but one of our educators found this great YouTube video which captures the fun of the indoor Kite Family Day in 2008.