Humans aren't yet able to go to Mars ourselves, so we’re reliant on the help of rovers and landers to be our eyes and ears on the surface - our mechanical “boots on the ground.” This episode is our ode to ROBOTS!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.