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.
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.
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.
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.
March is Women’s History Month and those of us trained as women’s historians know that our topics have particular currency in the third month of the year. But for women in space, the month to celebrate really should be June.
How do you illustrate a non-fiction book for kids based on the former ninth planet? Some people still have some pretty strong feelings about Pluto’s demotion: protest signs, student protest speeches, public demonstrations. Cries of unfairness could be heard when news of poor Pluto’s removal from the planetary ranks occurred. It is the intention of this new children’s book to set the story straight or at least attempt to share “Pluto’s side of the story." I‘ve worked in the children’s book market as a freelance illustrator for several years in addition to my full-time job with the Museum’s Early Childhood program. My latest book assignment from Abrams Books for Young Readers, Pluto's Secret: an icy World's Tale of Discovery, connected my job as an artist and an educator.
Yes, the sky is falling. The asteroid impact that took place in Chelyabinsk, Russia, on February 15, 2013, has jump-started an international conversation about planetary protection and whether or not there is a really big asteroid/meteor/comet out there with our name on it. There is, we just haven’t found it yet. Miniscule objects enter the atmosphere all the time; occasionally larger objects come down—the Tunguska (1908) and Chelyabinsk (2013) events are prime examples of this—and once in a very great while a mass extinction impact takes place as in the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event of 66-65 million years ago that wiped out the dinosaurs.
Two years ago today, the space shuttle Discovery was launched for the last time. My friend Nicole Gugliucci scored a quartet of tickets for the launch and shared them with me, along with our friends and classmates Joleen Carlberg and Gail Zasowski. Facing an overwhelming load of graduate school work, we decided that a road trip from Virginia to Florida was exactly what we needed.