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Tue, October 25 2016

Sikorsky X2 Helicopter Reaching New Speeds

In 2005 Sikorsky began developing the X2 to increase helicopter speeds. The X2 made its first flight in 2008. On September 15, 2010, it achieved a level flight speed of 250 knots (463 kilometers/288 miles per hour)—a 15 percent improvement on the record top speed of a conventional helicopter. As a result, Sikorsky Aircraft and the X2 Technology Demonstrator Team received the Collier Trophy.

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X2 Sikorsky Helicopter
Mon, October 24 2016

Howard Hughes and the World’s Fastest Land Plane

Famous film producer and entrepreneur, Howard Hughes, set his sights on building the world's fastest land plane. The result was the sleek Hughes H-1 Racer, which broke the world speed record in 1935, and later the US transcontinental speed record in 1937.

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Howard Hughes and the World’s Fastest Land Plane

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Howard Hughes
Fri, October 21 2016

Your Captions: Merrill and Princess Doreen

Last week we asked you to caption a number of intriguing images, and we promised to share more about each photo in the coming weeks. Let’s kick off with this ferociously furry snapshot.

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Henry Tyndall "Dick" Merrill and Princess Doreen
Thu, October 20 2016

Reports of UFOs: 1947 Roswell Incident

In this 2011 Ask an Expert talk, Dr. Roger Launius explores the 1947 Roswell Incident, an event that entangled the United States Army in UFO conspiracy theories that persist to this day.

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Roswell Daily Record
Wed, October 19 2016

Transforming Airport Towers

In the Museum’s exhibition Art of the Airport Tower, and companion book, dramatic stone and metal structures stretch out over muted skies speckled with clouds. Look closer. If you’re like photographer and museum specialist Carolyn Russo these photographs of airport towers reveal something else: Swiss cheese, birds, insects, and even top hats.

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LaGuardia Airport
Tue, October 18 2016

How Sojourner Got the Public Excited About Mars

How did Sojourner, the first rover NASA successfully landed on Mars, get its name? The rover and its flight spare were named through a contest open to all students under 18. First place was Sojourner Truth, an African American abolitionist and women's rights activist. The flight spare was named after Marie Curie, the famous physicist and chemist. The Pathfinder Sojourner mission was not only a successful mission to Mars, but it engaged the public in planetary exploration. 

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Sojourner on Mars
Mon, October 17 2016

Over 50 Years of Service

The Lockheed U-2 is an incredibly versatile, and successful intelligence gathering aircraft designed for high-altitude flight. Satellites are still unable to rival the precision and speed in which the U-2 can complete tasks. It is one of the few aircraft that has been in service for over 50 years and continues to serve today. Credits: Select archival material provided by NASA and the U.S. Air Force

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Over 50 Years of Service

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Lockheed U-2
Fri, October 14 2016

Tuna Fishing to Tactical Observation: ScanEagle UAS

The Museum recently added the Insitu ScanEagle X200 unmanned aircraft system (UAS), or drone, to its collection. This ScanEagle, currently on display at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia, served in Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) demonstrations from 2013 to 2015 to integrate UAS into the U.S. National Airspace System. It performed ice floe monitoring missions in northern Alaska and beyond visual line of sight validation flights, including railroad track inspection in New Mexico. ScanEagle was the first drone to receive an FAA restricted category type certificate.

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ScanEagle in Flight
Thu, October 6 2016

Insights from a Planetary Spacesuit Designer

Pablo de León has been in the space business for nearly 20 years, working as a space project manager and spacesuit designer. De León spoke with visitors at the Museum in Washington, DC during our 2016 Hispanic Heritage Month: Innovators in Aviation and Space Heritage Family Day as part of the Smithsonian Latino Center’s ¡Descubra! Meet the Science Expert series.

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Testing the NDX-1 Spacesuit
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

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