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Behind the Scenes

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Fri, September 11 2015

Building a Spacesuit out of Spare Parts

I never would have guessed I’d spend the summer building a spacesuit. It isn’t exactly your typical internship. But with a lot of “spare” parts generously donated to the Museum by the manufacturer, ILC Dover, there’s a spacesuit just begging to be assembled. I spent weeks figuring out how to put this suit together, and with more than 400 parts in the collection, it’s not as simple as you might think.

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Tue, September 8 2015

We’re Sending the USS Enterprise Back in Time

You can help. Conservators at the Emil Buehler Conservation Laboratory are working to restore the original, 11-foot studio model of the USS Enterprise, used in all 79 episodes of the television series Star Trek, to its appearance from August of 1967. We are looking for first-hand, primary source photos or film of the ship’s early years. Images of the model during production or on public display anytime between 1964 and 1976 will help conservators determine the model’s exact configuration at different stages of its journey.

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Tue, August 25 2015

SpaceShipOne Folds Its Wing

For the past decade, SpaceShipOne has been on display as one of the hanging artifacts in the Boeing Milestones of Flight Hall. It was specifically positioned to depict the aircraft in its initial stage of powered flight (30 degrees, nose up attitude) just after release from its White Knight mother ship, which carried it aloft to an altitude of about 14,326 meters (47,000 feet). In March of this year, SpaceShipOne was lowered to the floor as part of a major renovation of the Milestones gallery. During this time, it received a thorough condition assessment and photo documentation by conservator Sharon Norquest. After surface cleaning and minor conservation work is completed, it is scheduled to be rehung this week and will be one of the major artifacts in the new Boeing Milestones of Flight Hall, scheduled to open in July 2016. The renovation project provided us with a unique opportunity to consider how we showcase SpaceShipOne in the future.

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Fri, August 7 2015

How do you put on an Apollo spacesuit?

First, let’s talk about terminology. When we talk about putting on or taking off a spacesuit, we frequently use the terms “donning and doffing.”

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Tue, August 4 2015

Nerd Camp

The door was locked, but a swipe of a security access card rewarded us with a satisfying “click.” Someone pushed the double doors open and we stepped into the laboratory. We paused for the briefest instant as my eyes, and those of my fellow campers, were transfixed on the object on the other side of the room: The Starship Enterprise from the original Star Trek series.

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Fri, July 31 2015

Were You a Member of the “First Moon Flights” Club?

The Smithsonian would like to add to its national collection a Pan American Airways (Pan Am) “First Moon Flights” Club card as an example of early enthusiasm for space travel.

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Wed, July 29 2015

Houston We Don’t Have a Problem: #RebootTheSuit is Funded, Now What?

The Smithsonian’s first-ever Kickstarter campaign to conserve, digitize, and display Neil Armstrong’s Apollo 11 spacesuit was fully backed in just five days!

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Sat, July 25 2015

A Triage Treatment for Apollo Biomedical Sensors

Much like medical triage, conservation triage analyzes the risk posed to an object and the hazards associated with not taking immediate action. Triage conservators ask questions such as: Can the object be handled safely by staff and researchers? Will the degradation of the object continue if it is not treated immediately? What treatment can we do, with the resources at hand, to keep this object stable as long as possible?

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Mon, July 20 2015

Reboot the Suit: Neil Armstrong’s Spacesuit and Kickstarter

Today is a rather big day for the Museum. Not only are we celebrating the 46th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission, but we are also celebrating the launch of something quite new.

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Thu, June 25 2015

The NACA/NASA Full Scale Wind Tunnel

The Scene: A new wind tunnel, the NACA Full Scale Tunnel at the NACA Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory, Hampton, Virginia The Time: May 27, 1931 The Action: A Navy Vought O3U-1 “Corsair II” –the whole airplane—is mounted in the wind tunnel.

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