Ever wondered how we move objects, what's not on display that we'd like to exhibit, or what rocks from the Moon feel like? #AskACurator Day on Twitter is your chance to get those burning questions answered about aviation, spaceflight, planetary science and more. Here is a selection of questions and answers that we will update throughout the day on September 14, 2016.
Tomorrow is Ask a Curator Day. From 8:00 am to 4:00 pm take to Twitter and ask us your most burning questions—include @airandspace and #AskACurator in your tweet. We’ll have curators, researchers, archivists, and museum specialists ready to answer your questions. What’s our favorite object? How do we move airplanes? What are we researching? We have answers.
This week the 53rdNational Championship Air Races will be taking place just outside Reno, Nevada. Besides the racers and teams that have made the event the world’s fastest motorsport, fans and spectators are an important part of the culture of air racing and we’ve been researching their place in that exciting history. If you’re a Reno air racing fan, we’re asking you to donate your most-loved t-shirt, jacket, hat, or buttons related to the races to our collection.
The Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum is one of the galaxy’s most popular tourist destinations, and celebrates infinite diversity in infinite combinations among its visitors. Although we are fairly certain there are no longer undercover Klingon agents on staff, we welcome citizens of the planet Kronos to explore the history of flight on Earth alongside our terrestrial visitors.
To help increase Klingon visitorship, we turned to Earth’s premier extraterrestrial linguist and former Smithsonian post-doctoral fellow, Marc Okrand. Okrand developed the Klingon and Vulcan languages for the Star Trek franchise, and was kind enough to translate and record a highlights tour.
The Museum periodically performs a thorough, physical check of all our objects. We open panels and cases and closely inspect each object for any sign of deterioration due to light, humidity, vibration, or just the march of time. We always hope there are no surprises. But when conservator Robin O’Hern, gallery inventory coordinator Erin Ober, and their colleagues opened a large chamber in the Apollo to the Moon gallery, they got a shock; an acrid chemical smell.
On September 5, 1882, the Central Labor Union in New York City held a “monster labor festival” in Wendel’s Elm Park, an event that would become known as Labor Day. On October 2, 1924, the Central Labor Union of Dayton sponsored their own trophy race at the International Air Races in Dayton, Ohio.
It’s the little things we take for granted here on Earth; things like being able to lie down on a bed and not have it float away, or wake up without suffocating on our own exhaled carbon dioxide. While interning at the Museum, I’ve spent time researching several of those things we take for granted but astronauts in space cannot.
Guion Bluford made history on August 30, 1983 when he became the first African American in space, launching into low Earth orbit aboard the Space Shuttle Challenger. He subsequently flew aboard three additional shuttle missions, logging a total of 688 hours in space.
Olive Ann Beech is proof that some milestones in aviation occur with two feet firmly planted on the ground. Olive Ann co-founded Beech Aircraft Corporation with husband Walter Beech and became the first female executive of an aircraft company when she took the reins in 1940. In Famous Personalities of Flight Cookbook, Olive Ann shared a recipe for supper nachos and a little insight into her early years in the aircraft industry.