A new Mars rover has landed at the Museum’s Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia. The Mars Exploration Rover (MER) Surface System Test-Bed (SSTB) is nearly identical to the MER twin rovers Spirit and Opportunity that landed on Mars in 2004. What makes the SSTB different, however, is that it was designed for use on Earth.
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.
Did you know that staff at the National Air and Space Museum enjoy dressing up for the annual Halloween event, Air and Scare, just as much as our visitors? The event, which will kick off tomorrow at 2:00 pm (ET) at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Virginia, will bring out lots of superheroes, Star Wars characters, princesses, pumpkins, and many more. It also brings out a creative side in the Museum’s Visitor Services staff, who have teamed up over the years with group costume themes.
On October 11, 1984, a female American astronaut stepped outside her spacecraft for the first time. Kathryn D. “Kathy” Sullivan had work to do in the payload bay of the Space Shuttle Challenger, a mobile workplace travelling 17,500 miles per hour about 140 miles above the Earth. Sullivan was one of the six women (in a class of 35) selected in 1978 to be Space Shuttle astronauts, and she was the third woman tapped to fly. An Earth scientist and PhD. geologist/oceanographer, mission specialist Sullivan was a good match for the STS-41G mission, which carried an Earth-observation payload and deployed the Earth Radiation Budget Satellite. She was co-investigator for the Shuttle Imaging Radar (SIR-B) remote sensing experiment and actively involved in research use of the Large Format Camera and other instruments mounted in the payload bay.
Noel Hinners served as director of the National Air and Space Museum from 1979 through 1982. He expanded the intellectual scope of the curatorial departments and fostered greater attention to the space sciences, a reflection of his own remarkable career. Born in New York and raised in Chatham, New Jersey, Hinners entered Rutgers University to study agricultural research but became interested in geology.
The world’s first ballistic missile campaign began when the first German V-2 missile successfully launched in combat hit a suburb outside Paris. A second launch later that day hit Chiswick near London. Senior curator Michael Neufeld discusses the V-2 and this campaign.
A veteran of four space shuttle flights, Steven Nagel first flew as a mission specialist on Discovery’s fifth trip into space before serving as pilot or commander on his subsequent flights. He was one of only a few astronauts to fly in all three roles.
Discovery entered service in 1984 as the third orbiter in the space shuttle fleet. Columbia and Challenger had already flown a total of 11 missions as America’s “space truck.” Discovery’s first mission, STS-41D, followed suit as the crew deployed, for the first time, three communications satellites, but it also signaled how the shuttle could serve as more than a delivery vehicle.
In 1984, Discovery ascended into space for the first time, after three thwarted launch attempts. Originally scheduled to lift off in June 1984, Discovery launched on August 30 as the twelfth space shuttle mission.
There is no question that the success of Project Apollo in the 1960s helped to create a culture of competence for NASA that translated into a level of confidence in American capability, and especially in the ability of government to perform effectively, to resolve any problem. Something that almost sounds unthinkable in the early twenty-first century but such was indeed the case in the 1960s.