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Fri, July 11 2014

Skylab is Falling!

Thirty-five years ago, on July 11, 1979, the first US space station fell out of orbit. It wasn’t a surprise or an error, nor was it a calamity. It was more like an intense meteor shower—sparkling and momentary—as Skylab entered the atmosphere. Very little of this spacecraft as large as a house was ever found on the ground.

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Skylab Orbital Workshop in Orbit
Wed, June 25 2014

Blazing the Trail in Space

Able and a squirrel monkey named Baker were the first American animals to enter space and return safely. On May 28, 1959 at Cape Canaveral, Able was placed in the nose cone of Jupiter AM-18 secured by a contour cradle made of fiberglass with sponge rubber lining specifically built for her body. Included in the cradle were multiple electrodes used to collect information on Able’s reaction to noise, acceleration, deceleration, vibration, rotation, and weightlessness. The cradle was then placed in a capsule with a life support system that included oxygen, moisture and CO2 absorbers, and electrical heating and cooling systems to keep the monkey alive. Baker was placed her in own separate capsule in the nose cone.  

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Sat, June 7 2014

My Space Shuttle Memories, A Flickr Slideshow

What was it like to witness a Space Shuttle launch or landing? For the Moving Beyond Earth (MBE) exhibition about the Space Shuttle, the International Space Station, and future human spaceflight, the team wanted to show how shuttle launches and landings became cultural experiences, not just technological events. Thousands of people gathered, often after having traveled great distances to do so. Many took pictures to record their presence at these historic events. What story would those snapshots tell?

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My Space Shuttle Memories: Launches and Landings
Wed, April 23 2014

Repairing Hubble

Soon after the Hubble Space Telescope was launched in 1990, images and data from its instruments revealed that its main mirror was optically flawed. It suffered from spherical aberration—not all portions of the mirror focused to the same point. The mirror’s shape was off by less than 1/50th the thickness of a human hair, but this tiny flaw proved devastating to the quality of the Hubble’s images and to the efficiency of all of its instruments.

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Deployment of Hubble Space Telescope
Mon, April 21 2014

Germs in Space

When Space X launched the Dragon Spacecraft on Friday, April 18, it was carrying nearly 5,000 pounds of supplies and payloads, including critical materials to support more than 150 science investigations planned for International Space Station (ISS) Expeditions 39 and 40.  Among these materials are some that weigh hardly anything at all—microbes—of which one type was collected right here at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC.

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The International Space Station (ISS)
Thu, April 3 2014

The New Milestones

The National Air and Space Museum has provided a myriad of experiences and memories for the many who have visited. But there is one experience they have all shared.  Every visitor has begun their exploration of the Museum by passing through the Milestones of Flight gallery.

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Museum Visitors, 1976
Sat, March 22 2014

Remembering William Reid “Bill” Pogue

Bill Pogue may be best known as an astronaut who served on America’s Skylab space station and author of the book he titled with the perennial question astronauts are asked to answer, How Do You Go to the Bathroom in Space?

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William Reid “Bill” Pogue
Thu, March 13 2014

Remembering Dale Allan Gardner

Dale Gardner was one of only six Space Shuttle astronauts to fly the Manned Maneuvering Unit (MMU) propulsion backpack.

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Dale Allan Gardner
Sat, February 1 2014

Looking Back, Looking Ahead in January 2014

Like Janus, the two-faced god of transitions in Roman mythology, the human spaceflight community looks to the past and future as January turns to February. In 2004, NASA instituted a Day of Remembrance for three crews lost in horrific accidents. Work pauses briefly at all NASA Centers on January 31 for a ceremonial tribute and rededication to safety in spaceflight.

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Astronaut Candidates
Tue, January 7 2014

10 Years on Mars

For the last ten years the missions of the Mars Exploration Rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, have brought breathtaking images of Mars back to Earth.

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Setting Sun