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Space

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Sat, December 21 2013

The Unique Flight of Apollo 8

The second Apollo mission to carry astronauts into space provided NASA and the world with an unprecedented view of life on Earth. From the start, with its planned mission to fly three astronauts around the Moon and back, Apollo 8 became a touchstone for how people understood the process of spaceflight.

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Apollo 8 Command Module
Sun, December 15 2013

10 Cool Things About the Udvar-Hazy Center

Aeronautics curator Jeremy Kinney talks about 10 cool things you might not know about the Udvar-Hazy Center and definitely won't want to miss.

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Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center
Fri, November 15 2013

The Soviet Buran Shuttle: One Flight, Long History

This month marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of the sole launch of the Soviet space shuttle Buran. The idea of a reusable space plane has existed for decades among space enthusiasts and predated the idea of a rocket carrying humans into Earth orbit.

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Medal, Bronze, Buran
Thu, October 31 2013

Bring Me the Head of Alan Shepard: A Halloween Story

While processing a National Air and Space Museum Archives photo collection, I came across this image—two men holding the wax head of astronaut Alan Shepard!  

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Alan Shepard's Wax Head
Mon, September 9 2013

The Museum’s Oasis of Art

As you turn to leave, you suddenly stop, frozen in wonder, beholding an oasis so calm and cool and quiet that your airplane-addled, spaced-out brain can hardly believe it isn’t a mirage. It’s not. On your floor plan it’s labeled Flight and the Arts. And much to their loss and to your relief, most visitors overlook it.

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Carrier Bound in Fly Marines!
Thu, August 29 2013

C. Gordon Fullerton

Widely known as a test pilot extraordinaire, C. Gordon Fullerton fulfilled three distinguished careers centered on aeronautics and spaceflight. He spent 30 years in the U.S. Air Force (1958–1988), retiring with the rank of colonel after serving as a bomber pilot, fighter pilot, and test pilot. During 20 of those years, he was an astronaut in the Apollo, Skylab, and Space Shuttle programs (1966–1986). Then, for more than 20 years, he was a flight research pilot and chief pilot at the NASA Dryden Flight Research Center (1986–2007).

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Gordon Fullerton
Tue, August 20 2013

Digging up some Dirt on Mars

The Viking program represents a major effort by the United States to explore Mars, with the particular goal of performing experiments on Martian soil to look for possible evidence of life.  Four individual spacecraft were sent to Mars as part of the Viking project, two orbiters and two landers, launched as identical orbiter/lander pairs.    

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Viking 1 Launch
Tue, August 6 2013

A Trip to the International Latex Corporation: How Spacesuit Gloves Are Made

This past month National Air and Space Museum and Museum Conservation Institute (MCI) interns were able to travel to Frederica, Delaware to visit the International Latex Corporation Dover (ILC). It is one of several companies that produces the "soft materials" or non-metal components of spacesuits for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). ILC was started in 1932 by Abram Spanel, and eventually made latex products to support the Allied troops in World War II. While today the company creates a range of products from personal protection equipment (PPE) to materials for the pharmaceutical industry, it is probably best known for producing spacesuits for the Apollo program. That means that ILC was responsible for designing and making the spacesuit that Neil Armstrong wore when he first stepped on the Moon in 1969.  

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Astronaut "Deke" Slayton's Gloves
Fri, July 26 2013

Suited for Space Comes to the National Air and Space Museum

It was about five years ago that Museum specialist Amanda Young announced that she had found a publisher, Powerhouse, for her book on the Museum's collection of spacesuits. The book features the photographs of Mark Avino and the x-rays of many of the spacesuits in the collection that he and Roland Cunningham had created and assembled. The book represented an overview of Amanda’s work on the largest collection of spacesuits in the world.

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Alan Bean Spacesuit
Wed, July 3 2013

The First Fireworks: Origins of the Rocket

Modern launch vehicles, including the recently retired space shuttle and the earlier Saturn V that took the first humans to the Moon, are among the most complex feats of engineering in human history. In the case of the Saturn V, the vehicle was longer than a football field and comprised of some 5,600,000 separate parts, all of which had to work perfectly to enable the rocket to carry out its mission.

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Apollo 11 Saturn V Launch

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