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Fri, February 11 2011

A Laptop in Space

The announcement last year that Bill Moggridge was selected to be the new head of the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt Museum in New York gave me pause. In my daily work I tend to stay on a narrow path of aerospace-related topics, but that name sounded familiar. A glance at my bookshelf gave me the answer: before joining the Cooper-Hewitt, Moggridge was a co-founder of the international design firm IDEO, and while there he played a crucial role in the design of the world’s first laptop computer: the GRiD Compass, first marketed in 1982. The unusual capitalization of “GRiD” was a trademark of the company that developed it.  

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GRiD "Compass" Laptop in Space
Thu, February 3 2011

Try Out our New Online Activities

If you’re looking for some online fun, try out several Web activities from our newest exhibition, The Barron Hilton Pioneers of Flight Gallery. The exhibition introduces some of the colorful aviation personalities from the 1920s and 1930s.

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Packing for the Unknown Interactive
Fri, January 28 2011

Remembering Challenger 25 Years Later

1986 was supposed to be a banner year for the United States in space—12 shuttle missions scheduled, the most to date, including launch of the Hubble Space Telescope. 

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STS 51-L Challenger Crew
Tue, January 18 2011

Eugene Ely and the Birth of Naval Aviation—January 18, 1911

In 1909, military aviation began with the purchase of the Wright Military Flyer by the U.S. Army.   The Navy sprouted wings two years later in 1911 with a number of significant firsts.  The first U.S Navy officers were trained to fly, the Navy purchased its first airplanes from Glenn Curtiss and the Wrights, and sites for naval aircraft operations were established at Annapolis, Md., and at North Island, San Diego, Ca.  But the most dramatic demonstration that the skies and the seas were now joined occurred on January 18, 1911, when Eugene Burton Ely made the first successful landing and take-off from a naval vessel.

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Eugene Ely
Fri, January 14 2011

A Curator’s Preamble to a Move

Sixty-two suits.  Toni Thomas and I came up with that number after several days counting spacesuits and flight suits on stepladders in the Environmental Storage Room, Building 24 (ESRB24) at the Paul E. Garber Facility.  These were the pressure suits in the National Air and Space Museum spacesuit collection that still needed soft, conservation-correct storage mannequins.  That was June 2009.  Amanda Young had just retired after the successful publication of her and Mark Avino’s book Spacesuits: The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum Collection. The book culminated fifteen years of hard labor on her part to document, reorganize and standardize the preservation, storage and exhibit conditions for the Museum's spacesuit collection. 

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Wernher von Braun
Tue, January 11 2011

5 Cool Things at the Udvar-Hazy Center You May Have Missed

Check out these must-see aircraft and space objects during your next (or first) visit to the Udvar-Hazy Center.

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Manned Maneuvering Unit
Thu, December 30 2010

Ten Events of Great Significance in Space Exploration during the Twenty-first Century’s First Decade

As the first decade of the twenty-first century comes to a close what might we consider the ten most important events in space exploration and discovery?

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SpaceShipOne
Mon, December 27 2010

Lion Cubs? Yeah, We've Got Lion Cubs, Too.

Ever since our colleagues over at the National Zoo introduced their seven beautiful lion cubs to the public, some of the staff here at the National Air and Space Museum have been feeling a bit envious. Yes, we have priceless historic artifacts like the 1903 Wright Flyer and the Spirit of St. Louis; but lacking a single lion cub or even a panda, we do have something of a cuteness gap - we simply can't compete with the Zoo when it comes down to Cute.  

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Roscoe Turner and Gilmore
Fri, December 24 2010

Santa's Balloons and Arctic Airships

Although the reindeer-powered sleigh is the form of transportation most usually associated with Santa Claus, the right jolly old elf displays an unexpected interest in lighter than air flight by launching festive fire balloons over the North Pole while a polar bear watches admiringly. Santa wasn't the last to attempt an LTA mission to the Pole, though - on May 11, 1926, the airship Norge took off from Spitsbergen, Norway. 

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Christmas Greetings

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