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Your Favorites Stories from 2016

Posted on Fri, December 30, 2016
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Over the last year, we’ve shared more than 160 stories with you on our blog, and now featured prominently on our website. What were your favorites? According to our calculations, stories about Star Trek tipped the scales, but a few other topics squeezed their way onto our list. For 2016, here are our 10 most popular stories. 

10. Revealing the Colors of the Star Trek Enterprise - August 17
This year, we wrapped up our preservation treatment of the Star Trek starship Enterprise studio model. We uncovered a lot during the process including areas on the model where original paint could be seen. In this post, we shared the colorimeter readings from the model and a commercial paint equivalent.

9. Stories from Inside the Spirit of St Louis - November 8
Renovating the Museum’s Boeing Milestones of Flight Hall provided us with a fantastic opportunity to take a closer look at some of our aircraft. While the Spirit of St. Louis, the aircraft that Charles Lindbergh famously piloted across the Atlantic in 1927, was undergoing conservation treatment, we captured up-close photography of the aircraft. Pencil-markings made by Lindbergh and signatures from guards can be seen in these stunning images.

8. Remembering the Challenger Seven - January 28
This year marked the 30th anniversary of the Space Shuttle Challenger accident. Seven astronauts were tragically lost. In this post, we explore the unique and inspiring lives of those seven astronauts.

7. The “Rope Mother” Margaret Hamilton  - March 11
A black and white photo of a woman standing next a stack of programming code that rivalled her own height, swept across the internet this year. We happen to have a few pages of that code. We shared a page from that stack and the story of Margaret Hamilton, a lead designer on Apollo flight software. 

Margaret Hamilton, lead Apollo flight software design, standing next to listings of the Apollo Guidance Computer source code. Image: NASA

Inside Columbia is this calendar with each day of the Apollo 11 mission crossed out except for landing day. Image: National Air and Space Museum

6. Investigating the Writing on Columbia’s Walls - March 3
There’s nothing more exhilarating then making a new discovery about a historic object. In 2016, we uncovered handwritten notes and markings inside the Apollo 11 Command Module Columbia.  Curator Allan Needell provides some context to some of those inscriptions from the spacecraft’s original occupants.

5. Apollo 11: The Writings on the Wall  - February 11
The markings inside the Command Module were discovered during a project to 3D scan the spacecraft. The scanning and accompanying photography helped reveal areas inside Columbia that had been hidden for years. Scrawled on one of the equipment bay panels was this note from Astronaut Michael Collins, “The Best Ship to Come Down the Line. God Bless Her.”

4. Command Module Columbia in 3D - July 20
Another outcome of 3D scanning Columbia was, of course, an extremely detailed 3D model. To make sense of all that detail, Curator Allan Needell provided a tour inside and outside of the spacecraft, complete with the commander’s controls and waste management system.

3. Tribble Trial Trends Toward Trouble - April 1
We would never joke about Tribbles, the multiplying creatures from the original Star Trek television series, unless it was April 1. On April Fools we launched a tribbles breeding program with a 24-hour live tribble cam. What could go wrong?

2. Enterprise Studio Model Back on Display - June 27
This year marked the 50th anniversary of the original Star Trek television series. What better way to celebrate then by placing the Enterprise studio model back on display? In this post, we share the final stages of conservation treatment that lead up to the models unveiling in the Boeing Milestones of Flight Hall.

Star Trek starship Enterprise model separated into its component parts. Image: National Air and Space Museum

1. USS Enterprise Conservation Begins Phase II - Jan 28
Is it surprising that our most popular story of 2016 is about Enterprise? If you’ve read up to this point, probably not. At the beginning of the year, we outlined the steps we would take throughout 2016 to preserve this 1960s star.

Is there a story from 2016 that you liked that’s not this list? Let us know @airandspace, and tell us what you want to see from us in 2017.