Science Fiction

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Wed, December 13 2017

Light Speed Delivery: The Smithsonian’s R2-D2 Mailbox

On display in a galaxy not so far, far away: the National Postal Museum's R2-D2 mailbox, currently on view at the National Air and Space Museum's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia.

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The R2-D2 mailbox on display at the National Air and Space Museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center.
Thu, October 5 2017

Blade Runner’s Spinners: The Shape of Things to Come?

The “Spinners” flying cars from Ridley Scott's 1982 darkly dystopian Blade Runner film reappear in the sequel, Blade Runner 2049. But are there any hopes for flying cars that can operate from rooftops by 2049?

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The Blade Runner “Spinner” flying car movie prop.
Wed, September 7 2016

Explore the Museum in Klingon

The Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum is one of the galaxy’s most popular tourist destinations, and celebrates infinite diversity in infinite combinations among its visitors. Although we are fairly certain there are no longer undercover Klingon agents on staff, we welcome citizens of the planet Kronos to explore the history of flight on Earth alongside our terrestrial visitors. To help increase Klingon visitorship, we turned to Earth’s premier extraterrestrial linguist and former Smithsonian post-doctoral fellow, Marc Okrand. Okrand developed the Klingon and Vulcan languages for the Star Trek franchise, and was kind enough to translate and record a highlights tour in the Museum’s new app GO FLIGHT.

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Explore the Museum in Klingon

Marc Okrand
Mon, June 27 2016

Enterprise Studio Model Back on Display

The studio model of the Star Trek starship Enterprise is now on exhibit in the Boeing Milestones of Flight Hall. After...

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Enterprise Studio Model Back on Display

Inspecting the Enterprise Saucer
Wed, February 24 2016

Arthur C. Clarke Collection of Sri Lanka Now Publicly Available

Almost a year ago, the Museum announced that it had acquired papers and artifacts of Arthur C. Clarke (1917-2008), renowned science fiction author and futurist.  Now we can share that the Archives has completed processing the collection and it is open for research. As we discussed in blogs last year, Clarke was a seminal figure of the 20th century, with his influence still evident in today’s science fiction literature; in the continuing, lively cultural interest in futurism; and, of course, in movies. His collection does what we hope for from any collection of a well-known, highly accomplished individual: to see into his or her processes of creativity and the network of family, friends, and peers that shaped their world.  

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Arthur C. Clarke in his Study
Thu, January 28 2016

USS Enterprise Conservation Begins Phase II

Stardate 1601.28: After a year of extensive research, conservation work on the original studio model of the USS Enterprise is now underway in the Museum’s spacedock.

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Enterprise Model Components
Thu, December 31 2015

A Year in Review – 2015

It’s a tall order to sum up the past year at the National Air and Space Museum in a simple list. We’ve hosted astronauts and record breakers, we’ve moved and conserved dozens of artifacts as we transformed the Boeing Milestones of Flight Hall (and discovered some incredible things in the process), and held programs that illuminated the impact of aviation and spaceflight on our everyday lives. Where would I even start? I propose a compromise: I’ll summarize ten of my favorite events of this past year, then I’m relying on you to suggest yours. Did you have an experience at the Museum this past year that should be on our list? We’re asking you to share your favorite Air and Space moments in the comments.

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Visit from Chuck Yeager
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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Starship "Enterprise" Model in 1987
Sat, June 27 2015

Buck Rogers Spaceship Toy

" the twenty-fifth CEN-TURYYY!" This enthusiastic refrain from a deep-voiced announcer is how the popular 1930s radio show featuring space hero Buck Rogers began. It was followed by the roar of a spaceship blasting off, simulated by the sound of an air conditioning vent. Many of you have probably never heard of Buck Rogers, but he was a household name in the 1930s and ‘40s. Rogers was the very first science fiction comic strip hero. The character, at first named Anthony Rogers, was introduced in the first science fiction magazine, Amazing Stories, in August 1928. In a story titled, Armageddon 2419 A.D., written by Philip Nowlan, Rogers was a 29-year-old World War I veteran who took a job inspecting mines for radioactive gases.

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Buck Rogers Police Patrol Ship
Fri, June 5 2015

Star Trek Considered Harmful

When the Boeing Milestones of Flight Hall opens in the summer of 2016, one of its central artifacts will be the Star Trek starship Enterprise studio model, used to film the original television series. As a member of the curatorial team that has been working on this exciting revision of the Milestones Hall, I have been immersed in the culture and lore of that artifact, as I have sought to place it in the context of the Lunar Module, Spirit of St Louis, Bell X-1, and other iconic artifacts that will populate the space. What follows are some observations.  

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Star Trek Considered Harmful

Star Trek starship Enterprise Studio Model


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