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Tue, February 28 2017

African American Pioneer Dale White and the 1939 Goodwill Flight

In 1939, Dale L. White Sr., a prominent African American pilot, set out on a "Goodwill Flight" from Chicago to Washington, DC, to make the case for African American participation in flight training, both civilian and military. His flight illustrated the challenges that African Americans faced in reaching equality—White was welcomed in Sherwood, Ohio, but was not permitted to land in Morgantown, West Virginia. Nearly 10 years later In 1948, President Truman integrated the armed services by presidential order.

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Portrait of Dale L. White
Mon, February 27 2017

Sally Ride: Women’s Firsts in Space and Politics

When the Museum collected objects from Dr. Sally K. Ride's personal collection in 2013, it became clear that Dr. Ride privately say many connections between her history-making spaceflight and the state of American women in politics and public life. Several political buttons found in Dr. Ride's personal desk in her home study tell that story. Curator Margaret Weitekamp shares how these artifacts help tell the full arc of Dr. Ride's life. 

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Sally Ride's ERA Button
Sat, February 25 2017

The Last Time the Command Module Columbia Toured

We announced that the Apollo 11 Command Module “Columbia” will be a part of a national tour starting in October. Did you know this isn’t the spacecraft’s first tour? In 1970-71, NASA executed an ambitious public tour of Apollo 11 artifacts to 49 state capitals, the District of Columbia, and Anchorage, Alaska. The Command Module traveled nearly 26,000 miles for the tour. We share more interesting details of the first tour including which state had the largest crowds.

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The Last Time the Command Module Columbia Toured

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Apollo 11 Tour in Missouri
Fri, February 24 2017

Airports: Deeply Human Spaces

Airports. How much have you thought about airports? The anthropologist Marc Augé describes airports as “non-places” where travelers, despite location, encounter the same stores, chain restaurants, and security procedures. Museum Curator Jennifer Van Vleck disagrees. To her, despite their anonymous character, there is no other public place in which so many emotions are openly displayed—the joy of a great adventure, the sadness of saying farewell, or even the anxiety of moving.  

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Dulles International Airport
Wed, February 22 2017

Preparing Columbia for a National Tour

The last time the Apollo 11 Command Module Columbia traveled the US was in 1970.  Almost 50 years later, the historic spacecraft that helped take us to the Moon and back is headed out on the road for a nationwide tour. Following the tour, the Command Module will be placed on permanent display in the exhibition Destination Moon, scheduled to open in 2020 at the Museum in Washington, DC. The Museum’s conservation team will spend the next six months preparing the artifact for travel and display. Conservator Lisa Young shares what the next few months will look like and what she’s most interested in finding out about Columbia.

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Preparing Columbia for a National Tour

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Apollo Command Module Columbia in the Restoration Hangar
Wed, February 22 2017

What Do NASCAR and Space Travel Have in Common?

What do NASCAR and space travel have in common? Beyond reaching speeds that would give the rest of us whiplash, the two also share a very special fiber. Nomex® fiber is used in both spacesuits and racing suits. The fiber, made by DuPont™, is extremely flame-resistant and has many applications.

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NASCAR
Mon, February 20 2017

Katherine Johnson, Hidden Figures, and John Glenn’s Flight

The flight of Friendship 7 has gained new resonance thanks to the movie Hidden Figures. Curator Michael Neufeld examines the movie through the lens of a space historian. Neufeld admits that the movie deviates from history often, but the movie was good, well-acted, inspirational, and important. The movie, and the book it is based on, are destined to change our national narrative about the space program and the people who contributed to it. 

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Hidden Figures Movie Poster
Wed, February 15 2017

How the INF Treaty Brought Missiles to the Museum

The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty between the United States and the Soviet Union ushered in the end of the cold war. The US withdrew its Pershing II missiles and the Soviet Union withdrew its SS-20s. Both countries were unwilling to use nuclear weapons, understanding the consequences of doing so—the Pershing II was a hundred times more powerful than the Hiroshima bomb. As a part of the treaty, both countries agreed that some of the missiles would be put in museums so that the public could see them and understand their history. A Pershing II and SS-20 are on display at the center of the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC. 

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SS-20 Saber
Mon, February 13 2017

Hollywood Goes to War: World War I on the Big Screen

On April 6, 1917, the United States entered World War I, setting America on a course to become an important player on the world stage. It was a turning point in the nation’s history that still reverberates through world events a century later. One of the Museum’s most engaging programs in observance of the hundredth anniversary of the First World War is Hollywood Goes to War: World War I on the Big Screen, a year-long film series showing Hollywood’s finest feature films on World War I.

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Hollywood Goes to War: World War I on the Big Screen
Fri, February 10 2017

A Closer Look at the Friendship 7 Spacecraft

We recently took new photographs of the Mercury Friendship 7 spacecraft following its conservation. This is the same spacecraft that John Glenn piloted into Earth orbit, an American first. The images reveal details of the spacecraft that can be easy to overlook when taking the capsule in as a whole. Are you able to pinpoint the circles in the capsule's heat sheild where NASA extracted samples to test durability? Or what about the eye chart inside the capsule that John Glenn was asked to use to test his vision? 

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A Closer Look at the Friendship 7 Spacecraft

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Friendship 7 Heat Shield

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