What is a hybrid rocket motor? What advantages does it have over conventional liquid and solid propellant rocket motors? These questions point to an exciting breakthrough that occurred on December 13, 2018, when Virgin Galactic successfully launched VSS Unity on its first suborbital flight.
As we prepare to ring in a new year, let’s revisit some of our favorite stories of 2018: stories that let you look closer at our collections, dive into the history of women in space and aviation, and explore our Museum in DC from your own home.
The moment of humankind's first voyage to the Moon and back was captured in a series of photos taken by the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observing Station in Maui, Hawaii. They show the trans-lunar injection rocket burn which sent Apollo 8 hurtling out of Earth orbit toward the Moon on December 21, 1968–perhaps the only such images that exist.
As we celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the pioneering Apollo 8 mission, many commentators and news stories will assert that NASA sent Frank Borman, Jim Lovell, and Bill Anders to the Moon to beat the Soviet Union. In fact, the Soviets were planning to send two cosmonauts to loop around the Moon, but that statement of the agency’s intent is, at best, half true.
After 32 years, the gallery will close on December 3 as the Museum embarks on a years-long project to revitalize our infrastructure and transform our exhibitions. What better time to take a look back at the early days of the exhibit and how it came together?