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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
Mon, March 29 2010

A Lindbergh Treasure Trove

National Air and Space Museum staff are hard at work renovating the Pioneers of Flight gallery, scheduled to open later this year.  It will be filled with the fascinating stories of the colorful personalities of early aviation, including Jimmy Doolittle, Bessie Coleman, Amelia Earhart, and Charles and Anne Lindbergh, plus Robert Goddard and other rocket pioneers.  One of the featured artifacts is the newly cleaned Lockheed Sirius Tingmissartoq, the dual cockpit plane that carried Charles and Anne Lindbergh on their exploratory trips across several continents in 1931 and 1933.  The trips made headlines and were the basis for two popular books written by Anne, North to the Orient and Listen, the Wind! Cognizant of their place in history, the Lindberghs carefully saved the majority of items they packed for the trips. Now after several decades in storage, many will be on display for the first time. 

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Lockheed Model 8 Sirius "Tingmissartoq"
Fri, March 26 2010

Going Mobile

The National Air and Space Museum is testing a new mobile website—the first at the Smithsonian!  Visitors carrying web-enabled smartphones can now access basic information about the Museum, daily events, exhibits and find objects on display through this new site formatted for mobile devices....

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Going Mobile
Wed, March 24 2010

Barbara Marx Hubbard and the Origins of the Pro-Space Movement in the 1970s

The formal beginnings of the modern "pro-space movement"—really an extension of the ad hoc efforts to gain and sustain public support for an aggressive spaceflight agenda earlier led by Wernher von Braun and others—might be best traced to the June 1970 formation of the Committee for the Future (CFF), a small group of space activists, dreamers, and misfits. Meeting in the home of Barbara Marx Hubbard, daughter of the toy king, and her husband, artist-philosopher Earl Hubbard, in Lakeville, Connecticut, they proposed establishing a lunar colony.

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Barbara Marx Hubbard
Mon, March 22 2010

Catching Rays

As spring quickly approaches and being outside is becoming more and more inviting, we Public Observatory staff continue to enjoy spending time outside with our portable telescopes.  Every sunny day between 12:30 p.m. and 2 p.m., except for Mondays, we invite visitors near the Independence Avenue entrance to take a look at the sun through our specially equipped telescopes.

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Observing
Fri, March 19 2010

Trajectories of Space Flight

The rich collections of space artifacts at the National Air and Space Museum provide a remarkable resource for scholars who wish to understand the special place that deep space exploration has held in the imagination of not just Americans but people around the world. 

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SpaceShipOne
Tue, March 16 2010

Shaking It Up: Planetary Tectonics Throughout the Solar System

I first thought of putting together a book on planetary tectonics when I was working on a general subject matter book on the planets in the mid 1990’s.  That book had a “comparing the planets” section where I showed examples of tectonic landforms on Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars.  Tectonic landforms are created when forces act on solid crustal material and they are found on objects of all sizes in the solar system. 

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Amenthes Rupes Thrust Fault on Mars

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