In the late 1960s, Poppy Northcutt was a return-to-Earth specialist with TRW, working on a contract with NASA on one of the most exciting adventures of the 20th century: humanity’s quest for the Moon. With computer programming skills and a degree in mathematics, she worked with her team at TRW on the development of the return-to-Earth program. And she became the first woman in Mission Control.
Introduced in 1927, the Vega was the first product of designer Jack Northrop and Allan Loughead's Lockheed Aircraft Company. Sturdy, roomy, streamlined and fast, the innovative Vega became favored by pilots seeking to set speed and distance records.
What is a hybrid rocket motor? What advantages does it have over conventional liquid and solid propellant rocket motors? These questions point to an exciting breakthrough that occurred on December 13, 2018, when Virgin Galactic successfully launched VSS Unity on its first suborbital flight.
As we reopen our doors to the public after the recent government shutdown, we are now in the full-swing our own new adventure—reimagining America’s favorite museum for the next generation of aviators, scientists, and astronauts.
As we prepare to ring in a new year, let’s revisit some of our favorite stories of 2018: stories that let you look closer at our collections, dive into the history of women in space and aviation, and explore our Museum in DC from your own home.
In 1917, the United States Army Air Service established an aviation engineering section at McCook Field in Dayton, Ohio. In 1927, the Engineering Division, as it was then known, moved to nearby Wilbur Wright Field and there remained as the Air Force Material Division (AFMD) and Air Material Command (AMC). Throughout the years, those stationed at Wright Field celebrated the holidays.
The moment of humankind's first voyage to the Moon and back was captured in a series of photos taken by the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observing Station in Maui, Hawaii. They show the trans-lunar injection rocket burn which sent Apollo 8 hurtling out of Earth orbit toward the Moon on December 21, 1968–perhaps the only such images that exist.