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Research

Showing 11 - 20 of 33
Fri, February 27 2015

Vance Marchbanks' Contribution to Public Health Policy on Sickle Cell Disease

Dr. Vance Marchbanks, Jr. is famous in both the black history and aerospace history communities for his accomplishments as one of the first in his field. He was one of two black MDs to complete the United States Army Air Corps School in Aerospace Medicine at the beginning of World War II. His fame continued through his association with the 99th and 301st Fighter Groups, who later became known as the Tuskegee Airmen.

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Vance H. Marchbanks Jr.
Sun, November 9 2014

Seeing Inside Neil Armstrong’s Spacesuit Using CT Scans

Museum staff recently transported Neil Armstrong’s Apollo 11 spacesuit to the National Museum of Natural History for a CT scan. Curator Cathleen Lewis shares her experience as one of those staff members and explains how CT scanning can help in preservation efforts.

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Armstrong's Spacesuit in CT Scanner
Thu, October 30 2014

#TBT Historical Research Center

Nothing says ‪#‎ThrowbackThursday‬ quite like Polaroids. Enjoy this look back at our Historical Research Center - an early predecessor to our Archives and Library, which was located in the Smithsonian's Arts and Industries Building. 

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National Air and Space Museum Historical Research Center
Tue, October 28 2014

More than Just a Map

You never know what you’ll uncover once you do a little digging. Museum Technician Tom Paone discovered something quite remarkable from what at first appeared to be a simple map.

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Colonel William F. Small Portrait
Wed, October 15 2014

Rummaging in the Archives Tech Files

I suspect that most households have what my parents used to call our “junk drawer,” a place for storing miscellaneous small stuff. Ours was in a handy location, the kitchen. It held scissors, rubber bands, toothpicks, matches, various keys, pins and pens, and spare parts for this and that. Some of the things we used often; most were just there in case a need ever arose. The National Air and Space Museum Archives has such a “drawer”—a whole lot of them, actually—but I wouldn’t consider their contents junk. Officially called the Technical Files, they are located next to the Library and Archives Reading Room on the third floor of the National Air and Space Museum on the National Mall. A treasure trove of materials that don’t belong to specific collections, they serve as a general reference resource for researchers and staff.

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Pan Am Cover Illustration
Wed, June 25 2014

Blazing the Trail in Space

Able and a squirrel monkey named Baker were the first American animals to enter space and return safely. On May 28, 1959 at Cape Canaveral, Able was placed in the nose cone of Jupiter AM-18 secured by a contour cradle made of fiberglass with sponge rubber lining specifically built for her body. Included in the cradle were multiple electrodes used to collect information on Able’s reaction to noise, acceleration, deceleration, vibration, rotation, and weightlessness. The cradle was then placed in a capsule with a life support system that included oxygen, moisture and CO2 absorbers, and electrical heating and cooling systems to keep the monkey alive. Baker was placed her in own separate capsule in the nose cone.  

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Able
Tue, January 7 2014

10 Years on Mars

For the last ten years the missions of the Mars Exploration Rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, have brought breathtaking images of Mars back to Earth.

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Setting Sun
Thu, January 2 2014

First Flight?

December 17, 2013, marked the 110th anniversary of the first powered, controlled flight of an airplane. Wilbur Wright had made the first attempt three days before, when the brothers laid their 60 foot launch rail down the lower slope of the Kill Devil Hill...He had set up a camera that morning, pointed at the spot where he thought the airplane would be in the air. When John T. Daniels walked up the beach with three other surf men from the nearby Kill Devil Hills Lifesaving Station, Orville asked him to squeeze the bulb operating the shutter if anything interesting happened. The result was what has arguably become the most famous photograph ever taken. Recently, however, some skeptics have suggested that the image does not depict a real flight at all.

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Wright Brothers First Flight
Thu, December 26 2013

Archeoastronomy of the Longest Night

As our northern hemisphere days begin to lengthen, I like to think about the many ways people have marked the Winter Solstice throughout human history. Like Summer Solstice (the longest day), the equinoxes, and motions of the planets and Moon through the sky, Winter Solstice has long been observed, recorded, and used to construct special buildings. Some of these buildings were erected so long ago that no written record of their use is available today, but they clearly point at cultures that valued the knowledge of precisely when the longest night of the year occurs. Two ancient cultures in the northern hemisphere whose monuments I’ve visited come to mind: Celtic and Anasazi.

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Fri, September 13 2013

An Extraordinary Journey: The History of Leonardo da Vinci’s Codex on the Flight of Birds

The possibility of human mechanical flight held particular fascination for Leonardo da Vinci.  He produced more than 35,000 words and 500 sketches dealing with flying machines, the nature of air, and bird flight.  He produced one notebook, or codex, almost entirely on flight in 1505-1506, known as the Codex on Bird Flights.  In this codex, Leonardo outlined a number of observations and beginning concepts that would find a place in the development of a successful airplane in the early twentieth century.  This extraordinary document, exhibited outside of Italy only a few times, is on display at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum in The Wright Brothers & The Invention of the Aerial Age gallery from September 13-October 22, 2013.  The story of the journey of the Codex on the Flight of Birds from the hand of Leonardo to the National Air and Space Museum exhibit is as fascinating as the document itself.

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