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Wed, December 7 2016

The Complicated Lead Up to Pearl Harbor

Today, on the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, curator Laurence Burke took a step back and explored the long and complicated history that led up to the Japanese attack. Burke, to an audience outside the Museum’s Sea-Air Operations gallery, said the story of Pearl Harbor often focuses on the events of December 7, 1941, but not what happened before the day that President Roosevelt called, “a date which will live in infamy.” To understand Pearl Harbor, Burke took the audience back to 1853-1854 when U.S. Naval Captain Matthew C. Perry sailed to Japan and negotiated the opening of Japanese ports for trade. After more than 200 years of self-imposed isolation, Japan wanted to engage with the rest of the world.  

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Attack on Pearl Harbor
Tue, December 6 2016

Short Life Span

Because of inadequate heat resistant materials, the average life span of the first jet engines were only 25 hours at best. Today’s jet engines run 3,000 to 5,000 hours before they require an overhaul. Following this routine maintenance procedure, they can continue operating tens of thousands of hours.

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Short Life Span

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Technician Working on an Airacomet Engine
Mon, December 5 2016

Exploring the History of our Chinese Kite Collection

In 1876, after the dust from the United States’ first World’s Fair and Centennial Exposition settled on the grounds of Fairmount Park in Philadelphia, the Smithsonian Institution’s collections expanded exponentially. Sixty boxcars filled with art, mechanical inventions, and other materials from many of the 37 countries who participated in the Exposition pulled into Washington, DC as gifts for a brand new museum.

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Original loan photograph
Sun, December 4 2016

Spacecraft Cookie Jar

Although sources may argue on the origins of National Cookie Day, two things are sugar-crystal clear: cookies are darn good, and the internet seems to agree that today is the day to celebrate them. In the 1960s, David McMahon and his family could have celebrated properly with a batch of chocolate chip cookies safely stored in this Mercury Friendship 7 cookie jar.

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Mercury Friendship 7 Cookie Jar
Thu, December 1 2016

Fifty Years of the Russian Soyuz Spacecraft

It is a remarkable fact that one of the two operational spacecraft that can carry humans into Earth orbit is celebrating its 50th birthday—the other is the Chinese Shenzhou craft. This week, the Russian Soyuz spacecraft turned 50 years old.

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Russian Soyuz
Tue, November 29 2016

Operational Logs of the Lafayette Escadrille

The year 2016 marks the 100th anniversary of the “Escadrille Américaine” or the Lafayette Escadrille. Created on December 6, 1916, the Escadrille (or “squadron”) holds a unique place both in the history of World War I (1914-1918) and in the history of aviation overall. Most notably, the Escadrille was composed of American volunteers who chose to fight for France a year before the United States’ official entry into the Great War in April 1917.

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Operational Logs of the Lafayette Escadrille
Mon, November 28 2016

First U.S. Spacecraft on Mars

Viking 1 and 2 were the first U.S. spacecraft to successfully land on Mars. The two landers were equipped to complete Viking’s core mission: search for life on Mars. The landers were essentially laboratories, and could run tests on site. Though no evidence of Martian life was found, the wealth of planetary data and photographs the Viking spacecraft sent to back Earth made a great impact on planetary science.

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First U.S. Spacecraft on Mars

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Viking - First U.S. Spacecraft on Mars
Fri, November 25 2016

Black Hole Friday

Black Friday is upon us. If you are looking for ways to avoid being mauled and crushed at your local Mall, but you want to somehow observe the day in spirit, why not explore what it takes to discover a really massive and dense object, a black hole.

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M87 X-ray
Wed, November 23 2016

A Collector's Passion for Early Ballooning

As SpongeBob and Turkey shaped-balloons float their way down Central Park West for the traditional Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade this morning, we’re reminded of someone from the past who had a great interest in ballooning. Evelyn Way Kendall was a prolific collector of balloon-themed objects, and had perhaps the largest collection of such items in the nation. But what inspired her to amass such a collection?

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Evelyn Way Kendall
Wed, November 23 2016

Required to Have an Art Gallery

Contrary to what people might think, the Museum has a large art collection and an art gallery. The arts and the sciences DO mix and are complementary to each other. Art helps to understand objects in a different way, encouraging visitors to think about what they see through another lens.

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Required to Have an Art Gallery

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Earth Flight Environment - Required to Have an Art Gallery

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