On February 20, 1962, John Glenn made history as the first American in orbit—a moment that changed history and reestablished the United States as a major force in the Space Race. Glenn's suit, specially designed and fitted just for him, helped make this achievement possible. The suit was adapted to act as life support, in case the Friendship 7 spacecraft malfunctioned.
Sometimes, seeing isn't believing until you take something apart. On the 60th anniversary of the launch of Explorer 1 by the United States, I'm prompted to recall the most valuable lesson I ever learned about what it means to be a curator.
As an astronaut, John Young (1930-2018) was one of a kind. He was the first person to fly in space six times, the first person to circle the Moon alone, the first Space Shuttle mission commander, and the first to command another Space Shuttle mission.
Bruce McCandless II (1937-2017) is immortalized in this iconic photograph of an astronaut flying solo high above Earth. He was the first human being to do a spacewalk without a safety tether linked to a spacecraft.
The northeastern United States is experiencing record-breaking cold weather, with temperatures 20 to 30 degrees below average, according to the National Weather Service. Those are temperatures so frigid that parts of Mars—a cold, desert planet—are actually warmer than certain spots in the U.S. But how does Mars’ climate compare to that of our home planet?
If you looked up at the sky on January 1, you might have witnessed something spectacular--the Moon kicked off the year with the biggest full moon of 2018, a supermoon. But what about the Sun; did you know that it can be super, too?
The phenomenon of contact with aliens has its own history. It was not always the case that those contending they had an encounter with extraterrestrials described the experiences as coercive and frightening. On the contrary, in the decade and a half after the first reports of flying saucer sightings in 1947, most prominent stories of close encounters of the third kind described the aliens as inviting, friendly, and kind.
With its spherical shape and piecemeal construction, it’s easy to see similarities between the Telstar satellite on display at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum and the infamous Death Star of the Star Wars films. Aside from a passing resemblance in design, both pieces of technology also address a larger question that has been a focal point for humankind in reality and fantasy: what does space mean for humanity?