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Mon, July 12 2010

Ike and the First Presidential Helicopters

On July 12, 1957, Dwight D. Eisenhower became the first president to employ a helicopter while in office. Though helicopters had been in operational use by the American military since 1944, concerns over their safety caused the Secret Service to bar their use for the nation’s chief executive except in case of emergency.

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Bell H-13J
Fri, July 9 2010

A Blue Igloo at the Udvar-Hazy Center?

If you've wondered what the blue igloo at the Udvar-Hazy Center could be, it's the home of a new planetarium that helps students understand science. 

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Portable Planetarium
Fri, July 2 2010

The Mystery of the Massively Parallel Processor

Several months ago, according to statistics that measure the public’s access to the museum’s collections via our web site, the one artifact on exhibit at the Udvar-Hazy Center that our online users visited the most was….the Massively Parallel Processor.

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Massively Parallel Processor
Tue, June 29 2010

The National Air and Space Museum at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival

National Air and Space Museum staff contribute to many larger Smithsonian efforts during any given year. For example, this year the Smithsonian Folklife Festival staff came calling. The 2010 Festival running June 24-28 and July 1-5, features the “culture” of the Smithsonian.

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Andrew Johnston at the Folklife Festival
Fri, June 25 2010

Six Decades Since the Korean War

Sixty years ago, before dawn on a humid June morning, a massive North Korean ground army, and aircraft flown by Soviet pilots, pushed across the border into South Korea. Troops and tanks had obtained complete surprise and rapidly advanced deep into South Korea. Only a valiant defense by the...

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Tue, June 22 2010

Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics… and Pre-Kindergarten

President Obama’s “Educate to Innovate” campaign, announced last year, calls for increased literacy in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) for all students. Increased STEM literacy means increased understanding of key scientific concepts, increased familiarity with technology and its applications, and increased exposure to the experimental process. As one of the world’s most popular museums, our stories of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics are engaging and relevant to old and young visitors alike. 

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Education: Kids with a propeller
Fri, June 18 2010

Women's Place in Space

As she became the first American woman in space in June 1983, headline-writers couldn’t resist wordplay on her name: O What a Ride! A Ride in Space, Sally’s Ride into History, Sally’s Joy Ride.  People at the launch chanted and wore T-shirts emblazoned with the slogan “Ride, Sally Ride,” echoing...

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Wed, June 16 2010

Become a Pilot Day

What does it take to organize a fly-in at the National Air and Space Museum?  Lots of time and lots of good friends!  As we head into our sixth year of Become a Pilot Day, it’s a great time to look back at how it all started and where we go from here. As a pilot myself, the idea of a fly-in was a no-brainer. 

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Become a Pilot Family Day at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center
Fri, June 11 2010

10 Cool Things You May Not Know About The Museum's Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird

1.  Continuous, Supersonic Afterburner. Ever wonder what causes the diamond pattern in the SR-71 jet engine exhaust?  It's due to the extra thrust provided by the afterburner which is actually supersonic, creating successive shock waves that show up as the diamond pattern.  The...

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Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird Skunk Works Logo
Wed, June 9 2010

Trajectories of Space Flight (Part Two)

In a previous blog post, I discussed the influence that Wernher von Braun had on the vision of the way that human space travel would progress, from brief flights into space to long duration missions to Mars.  To continue that discussion: Wernher von Braun envisioned the space station to be something quite different from the International Space Station that is now in orbit: he imagined a wheel-shaped vessel that rotated to provide artificial gravity for its crew.

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Space Station S-1 Model

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