All Stories

Showing 1 - 10 of 898
Wed, February 22 2017

What Do NASCAR and Space Travel Have in Common?

What do NASCAR and space travel have in common? Beyond reaching speeds that would give the rest of us whiplash, the two also share a very special fiber. Nomex® fiber is used in both spacesuits and racing suits. The fiber, made by DuPont™, is extremely flame-resistant and has many applications.

Read More about What Do NASCAR and Space Travel Have in Common?
Mon, February 20 2017

The Balloon in Social and Political Satire

What made the balloon such a key graphic element in political and social satire for over one century? Was it the bulbous shape, or the fact that balloons are wayward craft that tend to go where the wind blows, in spite of the aeronaut’s best efforts? Whatever the reason, the great comic artists of the 18th and 19th century turned to the balloon time and time again in order to poke fun at people and events. The meaning of many of the political satires, the inside joke, is often lost on us today. If any of our friends out there can enlighten us as to the story behind one of these mysteries, we welcome the assistance! 

Read More about The Balloon in Social and Political Satire
Mon, February 20 2017

Katherine Johnson, Hidden Figures, and John Glenn’s Flight

The flight of Friendship 7 has gained new resonance thanks to the movie Hidden Figures. Curator Michael Neufeld examines the movie through the lens of a space historian. Neufeld admits that the movie deviates from history often, but the movie was good, well-acted, inspirational, and important. The movie, and the book it is based on, are destined to change our national narrative about the space program and the people who contributed to it. 

Read More about Katherine Johnson, Hidden Figures, and John Glenn’s Flight
Hidden Figures Movie Poster
Wed, February 15 2017

How the INF Treaty Brought Missiles to the Museum

The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty between the United States and the Soviet Union ushered in the end of the cold war. The US withdrew its Pershing II missiles and the Soviet Union withdrew its SS-20s. Both countries were unwilling to use nuclear weapons, understanding the consequences of doing so—the Pershing II was a hundred times more powerful than the Hiroshima bomb. As a part of the treaty, both countries agreed that some of the missiles would be put in museums so that the public could see them and understand their history. A Pershing II and SS-20 are on display at the center of the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC. 

Read More about How the INF Treaty Brought Missiles to the Museum
SS-20 Saber
Mon, February 13 2017

Hollywood Goes to War: World War I on the Big Screen

On April 6, 1917, the United States entered World War I, setting America on a course to become an important player on the world stage. It was a turning point in the nation’s history that still reverberates through world events a century later. One of the Museum’s most engaging programs in observance of the hundredth anniversary of the First World War is Hollywood Goes to War: World War I on the Big Screen, a year-long film series showing Hollywood’s finest feature films on World War I.

Read More about Hollywood Goes to War: World War I on the Big Screen
Hollywood Goes to War: World War I on the Big Screen
Fri, February 10 2017

A Closer Look at the Friendship 7 Spacecraft

We recently took new photographs of the Mercury Friendship 7 spacecraft following its conservation. This is the same spacecraft that John Glenn piloted into Earth orbit, an American first. The images reveal details of the spacecraft that can be easy to overlook when taking the capsule in as a whole. Are you able to pinpoint the circles in the capsule's heat sheild where NASA extracted samples to test durability? Or what about the eye chart inside the capsule that John Glenn was asked to use to test his vision? 

Read More about

A Closer Look at the Friendship 7 Spacecraft

Friendship 7 Heat Sheild
Thu, February 9 2017

The World’s First Jumbo Jet

The Boeing 747 is one of the most significant airliners in history. The airliner popularized air travel and ushered in a new era of affordable airfare. In the early 1970s many of 747s were outfitted with extravagant amenities like bars, piano lounges, and even spiral staircases. The economic reality of such amenities eventually hit the airlines. They realized they could make a lot more money by replacing lounges with seats. 

Read More about The World’s First Jumbo Jet
The World’s First Jumbo Jet
Wed, February 8 2017

Celebrations in the Sky

No celebration in 19th century France was complete without a balloon in the weeks and months following its invention. A balloon ascent had the power to gather crowds of delighted spectators eager to see something they had never seen before. This balloon craze was satirized and documented in prints and engravings from the time. 

Read More about Celebrations in the Sky
Aeronaut Sophie Blanchard
Mon, February 6 2017

The First Spacecraft to Use Gravity Assist

Mariner 10 may have been the last of the Mariner spacecraft series, but it was the first to complete many new tasks. It was the first U.S. spacecraft to visit two planets - Venus and Mercury - in one mission. It was also the first to broadcast images of Venus back to Earth. The greatest achievement of the spacecraft was its use of a gravitational assist: Mariner 10 used Venus’ gravitational field to slingshot itself towards Mercury, saving fuel and picking up speed. 

Read More about The First Spacecraft to Use Gravity Assist
Mariner 10
Sun, February 5 2017

The Long Career of Perry Young

On this day in 1957, Perry Young Jr. became the first African American pilot to fly a regularly scheduled passenger route for a U.S. airline. The press and community leaders hailed the flight as a significant step forward on the path to desegregation. For Young, it marked a professional milestone after years of persistence in the face of discrimination. 

Read More about The Long Career of Perry Young
Perry Young

Don't Miss Our Latest Stories Learn More