Topic

Spacecraft

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Fri, July 15 2016

Ten Artifacts That Transformed the World

“What is your favorite artifact?” When you work at a museum that is the question people always ask you. Most of my museum colleagues say it’s impossible to pick just one. I agree.

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Thu, March 3 2016

Investigating the Writing on Columbia’s Walls

I recently shared that we uncovered handwritten notes and markings inside the Apollo 11 Command Module Columbia—the spacecraft that carried astronauts Armstrong, Collins, and Aldrin into lunar orbit and home on their historic voyage of July 1969. As part of our collaboration with the Smithsonian’s Digitization Program Office to create a detailed 3D model of the spacecraft, we had access to previously inaccessible areas for the first time in many years. We found notes written on a number of locker doors and even a small calendar used to check off days of the mission. We did our best to imagine the circumstances surrounding the creation of these markings. In the weeks that have passed, I have been working with an extraordinary team of experts to see what we can learn about each of the markings we documented, especially the more technical numerical entries. Today, we are posting the Apollo Flight Journal (AFJ) website, a detailed account of all the information we’ve gathered so far.

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Mon, January 4 2016

Models on the Move: Rehousing 800+ Models from the Collection

You may be surprised to know that in addition to the largest collection of authentic aviation- and space-related artifacts in the world, our Museum also has an impressive model collection. Our model collection contains more than 5,700 models of aircraft, balloons, and more. Nearly 1,100 of those models are on display at our Museum and the rest are in storage. Approximately 800 of those models share space with our staff on the third floor of the Museum in Washington, DC. But not for much longer. Last June, we began the time-consuming process of relocating the models from the third floor to storage at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia. The move was brought on by a multi-year project at the Museum in DC to upgrade the exterior of the building and the interior mechanical systems. Before construction begins, the models need to be moved. How do you relocate more than 800 delicate models?

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Tue, December 15 2015

The World’s First Space Rendezvous

Fifty years ago, on December 15, 1965, Gemini VI and VII met for the first rendezvous in space. This was not NASA’s original plan.

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Tue, November 10 2015

Mercury Primate Capsule and Ham the Astrochimp

On May 5, 1961, Alan Shepard became the first American in space. However, three months earlier NASA had launched “Number 65” on a mission that helped pave the way for Shephard’s momentous flight. Number 65 was a male chimpanzee born in 1957 in the French Cameroons in West Africa.

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Tue, August 25 2015

SpaceShipOne Folds Its Wing

For the past decade, SpaceShipOne has been on display as one of the hanging artifacts in the Boeing Milestones of Flight Hall. It was specifically positioned to depict the aircraft in its initial stage of powered flight (30 degrees, nose up attitude) just after release from its White Knight mother ship, which carried it aloft to an altitude of about 14,326 meters (47,000 feet). In March of this year, SpaceShipOne was lowered to the floor as part of a major renovation of the Milestones gallery. During this time, it received a thorough condition assessment and photo documentation by conservator Sharon Norquest. After surface cleaning and minor conservation work is completed, it is scheduled to be rehung this week and will be one of the major artifacts in the new Boeing Milestones of Flight Hall, scheduled to open in July 2016. The renovation project provided us with a unique opportunity to consider how we showcase SpaceShipOne in the future.

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Sat, August 22 2015

Inside Look: Celebrating New Horizons With the Mission Team

On July 13 and 14, I was invited to visit the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland, for the New Horizons Pluto Flyby Events.

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Fri, August 21 2015

New Horizons: The Gift That Keeps Giving

On July 14, the New Horizons spacecraft completed a 9.5-year-long, 4.8-billion kilometer (3-billion mile) journey to the object furthest from the Sun to be visited by a spacecraft.

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Tue, August 4 2015

Nerd Camp

The door was locked, but a swipe of a security access card rewarded us with a satisfying “click.” Someone pushed the double doors open and we stepped into the laboratory. We paused for the briefest instant as my eyes, and those of my fellow campers, were transfixed on the object on the other side of the room: The Starship Enterprise from the original Star Trek series.

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Fri, July 31 2015

Were You a Member of the “First Moon Flights” Club?

The Smithsonian would like to add to its national collection a Pan American Airways (Pan Am) “First Moon Flights” Club card as an example of early enthusiasm for space travel.

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