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Thu, May 6 2010

Following the Hindenburg

The superlatives tend to pile up pretty quickly when it comes to the rigid airship Hindenburg, the pride of the Deutsche Zeppelin-Reederei line...It’s a shame, though, that the Hindenburg is remembered today primarily for its tragic final flight.

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Hindenburg Poster
Mon, May 3 2010

IMAX—Not the First, but Close!

When the National Air and Space Museum opened its doors in July 1976, it featured in its theater a film produced specifically for the Museum called To Fly in a large format called IMAX.

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IMAX Movie To Fly!
Mon, April 26 2010

The Crew of US Airways Flight 1549 to be Presented with the National Air and Space Museum's Trophy Award for Current Achievement

Sometimes seemingly ordinary people become extraordinary by staying remarkably calm and capable in a crisis.  The crew of US Airways Flight 1549 performed exceptionally on January 15, 2009, when their Airbus A320 jetliner became disabled over New York City after flying through a flock of geese moments after they took off from LaGuardia Airport.  Capt. Chesley B. “Sully” Sullenberger and First Officer Jeffrey B. Skiles masterfully guided the powerless aircraft to an emergency “landing” on the Hudson River.

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Crew of  US Airways Flight 1549
Thu, April 22 2010

Christopher C. Kraft, Jr. to be awarded the National Air and Space Museum's Lifetime Achievement Award

On April 28th, we will be awarding the National Air and Space Museum’s Trophy Award for Current and Lifetime Achievement. The Trophy was initiated in 1985 and has been given every year but one since then. This year, the Lifetime Achievement Award will be given to Christopher C. Kraft, Jr., for a lifetime of service to aerospace, especially for his role in defining the responsibilities of Mission Control for human spaceflight at NASA. Anyone who has seen the Hollywood film Apollo 13 knows how crucial the mission controllers were in saving that mission and its crew from disaster. While the filmmakers may have exaggerated a few things, in that regard they were correct. Mission controllers—at first located at Cape Canaveral, later on in Houston—were critical to the success of all the human missions into space, and it was Kraft who determined their roles and responsibilities.

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Gene Kranz and Chris Kraft at console
Mon, April 19 2010

Model Students

I teach an exhibition design course as an adjunct professor for the George Washington University’s Museum Studies program.  I tell my students I’ve got the best job in the world: designing exhibitions for the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum. They often ask what you need to know to be an exhibit designer and how they can get there, too.

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Student Banner for the Social Uses of GPS Technology Exhibit
Thu, April 15 2010

A “New Mars” Comes to the National Air and Space Museum

The Exploring the Planets Gallery has been updated to incude scientic exlporation of Mars. See what's new! 

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Exploring the Planets Gallery -- Mars Section
Mon, April 12 2010

Why Yuri Gagarin Remains the First Man in Space, Even Though He Did Not Land Inside His Spacecraft

Every year as the anniversary of the first human spaceflight approaches, I receive calls inquiring about the validity of Yuri Gagarin’s claim as the first human in space.  The legitimate questions focus on the fact that Gagarin did not land inside his spacecraft. 

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Yuri Gagarin
Fri, April 9 2010

A Face in the Crowd

In addition to the “Apollo 11 Codices”, the National Air and Space Museum holds approximately 150 works by the artist Mitchell Jamieson (1915 – 1976). The “Apollo 11 Codices” exemplify Jamieson’s journalistic style of painting, which was one reason NASA brought him into its Fine Art Program. Aboard the U.S.S. Hornet, Jamieson sketched the seamen working to recover the capsule and crew from the successful Apollo 11 mission. Jamieson was known for his depictions of the onlookers at major events rather than the events themselves. This style allows the viewer to believe that they are there as part of the crowd, feeling the energy and excitement. Three of Jamieson’s works are traveling as part of the exhibition “NASA Art: Fifty Years of Exploration” organized by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES) in cooperation with NASA and the National Air and Space Museum.

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There! by Mitchell Jamieson
Mon, April 5 2010

Spacesuit in need of repair

One of the things that makes being an educator here great is our teaching collection. I’m lucky, I work with a curatorial and collections staff that considers our needs as educators and provides the public with deaccessioned items they can touch and examine up close.   Our teaching collection currently contains real space food, shuttle tiles, bits of airplanes, meteorites, uniforms and other assorted items.  However, not all the items are real; our most popular replica is the shuttle era space suit.  The suit has been part of the Discovery Station Program for over ten years.  It was purchased with a grant from the Smithsonian Women’s Committee and is part of the Living and Working in Space Discovery Station, our most popular station, largely because of the suit.  The station gets an average of 40,000 visitors yearly, but that’s only a portion of the crowds the suit sees.  It has also become a key object used for family days, story times and school tours.

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Mock Space Shuttle Suit
Thu, April 1 2010

Why Do People Persist in Denying the Moon Landings?

In the summer of 2009 the United States celebrated the fortieth anniversary of the first Moon landing, Apollo 11. Amidst all of the hoopla virtually every news story, especially in the electronic world, made some comment about a supposedly rising belief that humans have never landed on the Moon.  Why?

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Apollo 11: Buzz Aldrin and the U.S. flag on the Moon

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