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Fri, October 7 2016

A Quick History of Launch Escape Systems

Blue Origin, Jeff Bezo’s private rocket company, passed an in-flight test of its launch escape system Wednesday—a method of detaching a crew capsule from a launch rocket. The successful test moves Blue Origin one step closer to its goal of carrying tourists into space. How to bring crews safely back to Earth in the event something goes wrong during a launch has always been a concern. Launch escape systems have been engineered into nearly all ventures into space.

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Artist Rendering of Launch Escape
Wed, October 5 2016

An Original WWII Smokejumper

WWII veteran and Triple Nickle Thomas McFadden recently sat down with STEM in 30 host Marty Kelsey to talk about his time serving as a smoke jumper during WWII and his role in Operation Firefly.

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Smokejumper
Mon, October 3 2016

Life as a Female Fighter Pilot

Throughout her military career, Lt. Col. Christine Mau has helped prove that women can perform, outstandingly, in some of the toughest positions in the United States Air Force. And, as a fighter pilot, she has done so with only a small community of female military pilots.  

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Lt. Col. Christine Mau
Fri, September 18 2015

Earth is Shaping the Shrinking Moon

Planetary science is one of those fields of research where you can always count on being surprised. The remarkable terrain of Pluto and Charon in images being sent back by the New Horizons spacecraft certainly qualifies. One of my all-time big surprises is from a recent discovery on an object much closer to home—the Moon.

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Prominent lobate fault scarp in Vitello Cluster
Wed, September 28 2016

The History of Japan’s First Jet Aircraft

Earlier this year, our collections staff at the Udvar-Hazy Center, in Chantilly, Virginia, moved the Nakajima Kikka from beneath the wing of the Sikorsky JRS flying boat in the Mary Baker Engen Restoration Hangar and out onto the floor beneath the Boeing B-29 Enola Gay. Moving the Kikka provides an opportunity to bring visitors closer to the last known example of a World War II Japanese jet aircraft and the only Japanese jet to takeoff under its own power—it also opened up space in the Hangar so that our team could install netting to deter birds. 

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Japanese Jet Aircraft
Wed, September 28 2016

1909: Flight Around the Statue of Liberty

Today in 1909, Wilbur Wright flew around the Statue of Liberty as part of the New York Hudson-Fulton Celebration, resulting in this historic Harper’s Weekly cover page. 

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Harper's Weekly October 9, 1909
Wed, September 28 2016

The Incredible, Still Shrinking Mercury

Being a member of a science team of a planetary mission is like being a starter on a major league baseball team—you’re in the game. That’s how I felt as a member of the MESSENGER mission to Mercury. During the final months of MESSENGER’s time in orbit, before the fuel on the spacecraft was expended and crashed on Mercury’s surface, a decision had to be made—keep the spacecraft in its nominal mapping orbit as long as possible or let the spacecraft altitude drift lower to get as close to the planet as possible.

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Topography of the Northern Hemisphere of Mercury
Tue, September 27 2016

Preparing to Restore the “Concrete Plane”

The Museum is proud to have the Ilyushin Il-2 in its collections, as one of the few large artifacts in the Museum's possession associated with the Soviet Air Force in World War II. Once on exhibition, the plane will close a large void in the Museum’s presentation. But before the Shturmovik can enter the workshop, we have to learn as much as possible about the aircraft and its history.

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Soviet Ilyushin Il-2 Cockpit
Mon, September 26 2016

Stalin’s “Essential Aircraft:” Ilyushin Il-2 in WWII

At the Museum’s Paul E. Garber Preservation, Restoration, and Storage Facility, a unique aircraft is waiting for restoration: the Soviet Ilyushin Il-2. Barely known in the West, the Il-2 Shturmovik played an essential role in defeating the Nazi...

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 Ilyushin Il-2 Shturmovik in Flight
Fri, September 23 2016

Creating the Klingon Language

STEM in 30 host Beth Wilson talks with the creator of the Klingon language, Marc Okrand, on how to create an alien language. ...

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Marc Okrand Interview

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