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Rockets

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Wed, January 4 2017

Examining the SLS Rocket with Astronaut Christina Koch

NASA is building a brand new rocket for the future of human spaceflight. Astronaut Christina Koch, who graduated from NASA’s astronaut training program in 2015, helps us examine the Space Launch System rocket in more detail. 

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SLS Rocket
Thu, December 15 2016

Reaction Motors: 75th Anniversary

On December 18, 1941, 11 days after Pearl Harbor, four young members of the American Rocket Society (ARS)—James Wyld, John Shesta, H. Franklin Pierce, and Lovell Lawrence Jr.—officially incorporated Reaction Motors, Inc. (RMI), in New Jersey. The timing was no coincidence: it was one of many patriotic actions Americans took after suddenly finding themselves fighting a war. RMI, which was created to offer assisted-take-off rockets to the military aviation branches, was the first successful American company devoted to liquid-propellant rocketry. In its 31-year lifespan, it developed rocket engines of noteworthy importance, especially for pioneering X-planes. 

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James Hart Wyld
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
Wed, March 16 2016

Robert Goddard and the First Liquid-Propellant Rocket

Ninety years ago today, on March 16, 1926, Robert H. Goddard (1882-1945) launched the world’s first liquid-propellant rocket. His rickety contraption, with its combustion chamber and nozzle on top, burned for 20 seconds before consuming enough liquid oxygen and gasoline to lift itself off the launch rack. The rocket took off from a snowy field outside Worcester, Massachusetts, reaching a height of about 12.5 meters (41 feet) and a distance of 56 meters (184 feet). It was smashed on impact. Goddard, his wife Esther, and a couple of assistants from Clark University, where he was a physics professor, were the only witnesses.

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Goddard 1926 Rocket
Tue, December 15 2015

The World’s First Space Rendezvous

Fifty years ago, on December 15, 1965, Gemini VI and VII met for the first rendezvous in space. This was not NASA’s original plan.

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Gemini VII Photographed by Gemini VI
Tue, December 1 2015

Remembering Astronautics and Museum Leader Frederick Clark Durant III

We have a tradition at the National Air and Space Museum of recognizing the passing of aerospace leaders with a temporary memorial panel displayed for a time on the Museum floor.

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Fred Durant, Tom Crouch and Werner Von Braun
Tue, February 17 2015

WWI U.S. Army Protective Helmet Used by American Rocket Society

What does a piece of World War I Army surplus have to do with early rocketry?

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American Rocket Society Helmet
Fri, January 30 2015

Remembering Milton W. Rosen

Milton Rosen was a pioneer of American rocketry development.

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Milton W. Rosen
Wed, July 2 2014

Remembering Frederick Ira Ordway, III

Fred Ordway passed away in Huntsville, Alabama, on the morning of Tuesday July 1.

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Frederick Ira Ordway, III
Fri, March 23 2012

Remembering Wernher von Braun on his 100th Birthday

Today is the 100th anniversary of the birth of Wernher von Braun (March 23, 1912-June 16, 1977), one of the most famous rocketeers and advocates of spaceflight that ever lived. Accordingly, it is an appropriate time to reflect on his remarkable life and career. A longstanding “space cadet,” von Braun was an early member of the “Verein fur Raumschiffahrt” (Society for Spaceship Travel, or VfR). Although spaceflight aficionados and technicians had organized at other times and in other places, the VfR emerged soon after its founding on July 5, 1927 as a leading group that both advocated for spaceflight and worked to build rockets. Growing up in the VfR, Wernher von Braun became the quintessential and movingly eloquent advocate for the dream of spaceflight and a leading architect of its technical development.

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Wernher von Braun

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