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Space

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Mon, July 23 2012

Telstar and the World of 1962

Last week, the Museum recognized the 50th anniversary of Telstar, the first “active” satellite (one that can receive a radio signal from a ground station and then immediately re-transmit it to another) and the first technology of any kind that enabled transatlantic television transmissions.  In 1962, both accomplishments generated intense interest, excitement, and commentary.

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Telstar
Mon, June 4 2012

Why should you care about the Transit of Venus?

Astronomy enthusiasts around the world are gearing up for Tuesday’s celestial show: the transit of Venus across the face of the Sun.  The small black dot of Venus, silhouetted against the bright Sun, will be visible with safe solar telescopes and, to those with especially good vision, with the naked eye when protected by eclipse glasses.

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Why should you care about the Transit of Venus?
Thu, April 19 2012

Shuttle Service to DC

Much to the delight of large crowds below, Space shuttle Discovery, mounted atop a NASA 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA), made several passes over the Washington, DC area yesterday. Discovery, the first orbiter retired from NASA's shuttle fleet, completed 39 missions, spent 365 days in space, orbited the Earth 5,830 times, and traveled 148,221,675 miles.

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Space Shuttle Discovery over Washington, DC
Fri, April 13 2012

Toilet Training

What is the first question most people ask about spaceflight?  “How do you go to the bathroom in space?” It’s a puzzlement. The Education staff has decided to seize a teachable moment.

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Waste Containment System
Wed, April 4 2012

Bringing Spaceflight Down to Earth

Having grown up less than 90 minutes away from the famous Cedar Point amusement park in Sandusky, Ohio, I got the chance at least a few times each summer to see an IMAX movie. I remember the packed seats for the pre-show, everyone clamoring for the best seats right in the middle, but everyone was usually just happy to be escaping the heat for the air conditioned theater. When The Dream Is Alive was released in June 1985, I was just old enough to ride those massive roller coasters, but seeing IMAX films at Cedar Point really left an impression on me: a big impression. Seeing those sweeping views of Earth and space on a gigantic screen made spaceflight seem so real, and utterly amazing.

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Astronaut Carl E. Walz with an IMAX Camera
Fri, March 30 2012

Bringing Buzz Lightyear to the Museum

When Disney•Pixar approached the National Air and Space Museum about donating the Buzz Lightyear figure that had flown to the International Space Station for 15 months, I was delighted.  As the curator for the Museum’s social and cultural space artifacts, I have the unique job of getting to take toys seriously.

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Buzz Lightyear at the Launch Pad
Thu, February 16 2012

Friendship 7’s ‘Fourth Orbit’

The Friendship 7 space capsule was designed to orbit the earth and it did just that on February 20, 1962, with John Glenn, Jr. on board. It circled the globe three times before landing in the Atlantic Ocean. Three months later Friendship 7 began its second mission, or what was popularly referred to as its “fourth orbit:” a worldwide exhibition that was organized to promote and represent the United States and its space program in nearly 30 cities around the world.

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Friendship 7
Fri, January 27 2012

What do you Make of the "Houston, we have a problem" Film Claiming that a Secret Yugoslavian Space Program was the Source of American Success in the Space Race?

I received a call from Richard Solash, a reporter with Radio Free Europe about ten days ago to discuss a film being made by Slovene director Ziga Virc and writer Bostjan Virc that alleges that Tito's Yugoslavia had a secret space program and secretly sold space knowledge to NASA, in the process making Tito rich and making if possible for the U.S. to achieve its Apollo program.

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Apollo 17: Flag on the Moon
Wed, January 18 2012

Shedding Light on a Common Problem

If you've been to any of the nighttime observing sessions at our Public Observatory, you might have wondered why we mostly view the planets and the Moon. After all, the Observatory...

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Public Observatory
Wed, November 16 2011

Was Mars Ever Habitable?

If all goes according to plan, on November 25th the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) rover Curiosity will leave the Earth and begin its journey to Mars. Any delays due to weather or other factors should be accommodated by a launch window that extends until December 18th. The spacecraft will use a new landing system to arrive at its landing site on Mars in August, 2012, and the rover carries an impressive array of scientific instruments.

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Mars Rover Curiosity in Artist's Concept

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