Topic

Exploration

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Fri, October 7 2016

A Quick History of Launch Escape Systems

Blue Origin, Jeff Bezo’s private rocket company, passed an in-flight test of its launch escape system Wednesday—a method of detaching a crew capsule from a launch rocket. The successful test moves Blue Origin one step closer to its goal of carrying tourists into space. How to bring crews safely back to Earth in the event something goes wrong during a launch has always been a concern. Launch escape systems have been engineered into nearly all ventures into space.

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Artist Rendering of Launch Escape
Thu, October 6 2016

Insights from a Planetary Spacesuit Designer

Pablo de León has been in the space business for nearly 20 years, working as a space project manager and spacesuit designer. De León will be speaking with visitors at the Museum in Washington, DC this Saturday at the Hispanic Heritage Month: Innovators in Aviation and Space Heritage Family Day as part of the Smithsonian Latino Center’s ¡Descubra! Meet the Science Expert series.

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Testing the NDX-1 Spacesuit
Wed, September 28 2016

The Incredible, Still Shrinking Mercury

Being a member of a science team of a planetary mission is like being a starter on a major league baseball team—you’re in the game. That’s how I felt as a member of the MESSENGER mission to Mercury. During the final months of MESSENGER’s time in orbit, before the fuel on the spacecraft was expended and crashed on Mercury’s surface, a decision had to be made—keep the spacecraft in its nominal mapping orbit as long as possible or let the spacecraft altitude drift lower to get as close to the planet as possible.

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Topography of the Northern Hemisphere of Mercury
Tue, September 20 2016

Interview with Apollo 11 Astronaut Michael Collins

At the Museum we’re fortunate to host many of the nation’s aerospace icons. This was certainly the case earlier this year when Gemini 10 and Apollo 11 astronaut Michael Collins was on hand for our 2016 John H. Glenn Lecture, Spaceflight: Then, Now, Next.

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Interviewing Apollo Astronaut Michael Collins
Fri, September 16 2016

From "Computer" to Astronomer: The Role of Women in Astronomy

Long before your laptop computer and the computers that took us to the Moon, there was another type of computer. In the early 20th century, women who made calculations and reduced astronomical data were known as “computers.” The hours were long and the pay was minimal. Their calculations, however, laid important groundwork for future astronomers and led to some of the most important astronomical discoveries.

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Phoebe Waterman Haas Ascending Solar Tower
Wed, September 14 2016

Ask A Curator Day 2016 - Questions and Answers

Ever wondered how we move objects, what's not on display that we'd like to exhibit, or what rocks from the Moon feel like? #AskACurator Day on Twitter is your chance to get those burning questions answered about aviation, spaceflight, planetary science and more. Here is a selection of questions and answers that we will update throughout the day on September 14, 2016.

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Ask A Curator Day 2016 - Questions and Answers

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Removing the Sputnik Replica
Tue, September 13 2016

Getting a Head Start on #AskACurator Day

Tomorrow is Ask a Curator Day. From 8:00 am to 4:00 pm take to Twitter and ask us your most burning questions—include @airandspace and #AskACurator in your tweet. We’ll have curators, researchers, archivists, and museum specialists ready to answer your questions. What’s our favorite object? How do we move airplanes? What are we researching? We have answers.

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Examining an Engineering Drawing
Tue, August 16 2016

Food & Flight: Harrison Schmitt’s Chili

Harrison “Jack” Schmitt was the first and last geologist to visit the Moon. Below is his secret chili recipe, served best with a side of tortilla chips and some space history. We can’t help with the chips, but we can tell you a little about this chili-making astronaut.

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Man on the Moon
Fri, August 12 2016

The Perseids Light Up the Sky

The annual Perseid meteor shower is at its peak (August 11-13). Meteor showers occur when the Earth’s orbit around the Sun takes us through a debris field, which is often a trail of cosmic dust left behind by a comet.

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Perseid Meteor Shower
Thu, August 11 2016

August 11, 1978: Crossing the Atlantic in a Balloon

On this day in 1978, Ben Abruzzo, Maxie Anderson, and Larry Newman took off from Presque Isle, Maine in the gas balloon Double Eagle II in an attempt to cross the Atlantic. The successful crossing took 137 hours, 6 minutes and covered 5,021 kilometers (3,120 miles) landing in a wheat field near Miserey, France.

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Double Eagle II Over Farmland during its Transatlantic Flight

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