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Thu, April 2 2020

Pat the Pilot: American Aviatrix, WAFS Member, and Allied Liaison

Aline “Pat” Rhonie made a perfect three-point landing in her 125 hp Luscombe Phantom when she touched down in Manchester, New Hampshire, on June 6, 1940. Owned by Rhonie, the plane was a Warner-powered, high-wing, two-seat cabin monoplane that she flew as the American Liaison for the French Aero Club. Rhonie piloted civilian and military aircraft throughout the United States as an American aviatrix and eventual member of the Women’s Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron, yet her mission traversed international borders to support the Allied cause.  

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Aline Rhonie
Wed, April 1 2020

The TIROS 1 Weather Satellite and Its Environmental Legacy

On the evening of April 1, 1960, President Dwight Eisenhower saw the first image sent back from space by the Television InfraRed Observation Satellite (TIROS) 1 weather satellite—shaped, as some quipped, like “an enormous hatbox.”  As he considered the grainy black and white image of cloud cover over the eastern United States and Canada, he remarked “the Earth doesn’t look so big when you see that curvature.

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First Television Picture of Earth from Space, 1960
Mon, March 30 2020

Before the WASP: American Women Pilot Service Organizations

Women in the United States have long served their country and women aviators have been no exception.  Perhaps the best known efforts are those of the Women Air Service Pilots (WASP), formed in 1943, merging the Women’s Auxiliary Flying Squadron and Women’s Flying Training Detachment.  But before the WASP, women pilots, such as Ruth Law, Opal Kunz, Florence “Pancho” Barnes, and Mary Charles were determined to serve their country in whatever way they could.

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Women's Air Reserve Aerial Ambulance
Mon, March 23 2020

Transcribing the Sally K. Ride Papers

We are pleased to announce that the Sally K. Ride Papers, consisting of over 23 cubic feet (38,640 pages!) of archival material chronicling Ride’s career from the 1970s through the 2010s, have been fully scanned and are available digitally. Air and Space fans can help make them more accessible by transcribing them in the Smithsonian Transcription Center.

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Signed Portrait of Sally Ride
Thu, March 19 2020

Our Friend Al Who Went to the Moon

Alfred "Al" Worden, command module pilot on Apollo 15, passed away on March 18, 2020. We mourn the loss and celebrate the life of Al, an aviator, engineer, and storyteller. From the halls of West Point to the far side of the Moon, the legacy of history’s first deep-space walker continues to inspire.

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Apollo 15 astronaut Al Worden with his spacesuit
Thu, March 5 2020

Exploration is About Perseverance: Mars 2020

The Mars 2020 rover is scheduled to launch this summer, and today is a milestone in the mission: the Mars 2020 rover has finally gotten a name.

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Exploration is About Perseverance: Mars 2020

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Mars 2020 Rover Rendering
Thu, February 27 2020

The Science of Leap Year

In 2020, February gets an extra day. Instead of 28 days, this year February will have 29 days. Almost everyone if familiar with the concept of leap year, but the reasoning behind it is a little complicated. Museum geologist Bob Craddock explores leap years in this new blog.

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Earth and Sun
Tue, February 25 2020

Remembering Katherine Johnson: NASA Mathematician Calculated Mission Flight Paths and Continues to Inspire

On February 24, 2020, Katherine Johnson passed away at the age of 101, after a long life of learning and teaching—and quietly helping the United States reach our destiny in space.

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Remembering Katherine Johnson: NASA Mathematician Calculated Mission Flight Paths and Continues to Inspire

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Katherine Johnson
Mon, February 3 2020

Conserving Michael Collins' Apollo 11 Razor

Conservation of Michael Collins' razor from the Apollo 11 mission presented conservators with a complex ethical dilemma for deciding the best treatment approach: how to arrest degradation while maintaining the historical elements of the artifact.

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Michael Collins Shaving Kit
Fri, January 24 2020

Remembering Julius Montgomery: Space Program Pioneer

Julius Montgomery, a pioneering African American in the space program, died on January 22, 2020, in Florida. He was the first African American ever hired at the Cape Canaveral space facility to work as a technical professional. Additionally, he integrated the Florida Institute of Technology and was the first black member of the Melbourne, Florida, City Council.

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Julius Montgomery at Florida Tech

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