I’m an executive producer at Smithsonian Channel and I had the pleasure of making the documentary Making Tracks on Mars. We made our film feel like an adventure because most people think of Mars as a frontier, but at its core, the story taps into our primal drive to explore.
This Bastille Day, we take time to recognize some of the most colorful personalities in early French flight including Jules Védrines who was known as a rough-and-tumble, foul-mouthed, and unpredictable aviator and Hubert Latham who once declared to the French president that he was "a man of the world."
Radar instruments play an important role in our study of Earth’s nearest neighbors, such as the Moon, Venus, and Mars. Radar can provide a range of information regarding the materials that make up the surface of a planet and offer a unique perspective on the underlying structure. To get the most out of our research it is important to have a fundamental understanding of the hardware that makes up a radar instrument. What better way to achieve this than build our own.
The Voyager probes were designed for a "grand tour" of the solar system, when scientists realized the planets would be aligned in the 1970s. The spacecraft collected significant new knowledge and data: Voyager 2 sent back the first images of Uranus and Neptune. The probe found 11 new moons, and a significant magnetic field around Uranus. Voyager 2 also discovered that Jupiter's Red Spot was actually a large storm in the planet’s atmosphere. Both Voyager spacecraft are still in space, exploring what lies outside our solar system.
Star Trek has become well known for having passionate fans. From the original three-season television show, the Star Trek franchise grew to include additional television programs, major motion pictures, novels, and merchandise. Beginning with the first fan convention in 1972, Star Trek’s fandom became a worldwide phenomenon including conventions, fan clubs, cosplay, written fiction, and more.
The studio model of the Star Trek starship Enterprise is now on exhibit in the Boeing Milestones of Flight Hall. After taking it off exhibit in 2014, assembling a special advisory committee, examining it using x-ray radiography, searching out long-lost photos, and planning the work in great detail, months of hard work culminated in several weeks of painting, detail work, rewiring, and final assembly. In the end, the whole project was a tremendous collaboration.
Last October, we announced that we had acquired the collection of Sally K. Ride, the first American woman in space. Now, we can share that the archival portion of the collection has been processed and is available for research! See our finding aid for more detailed information.
What makes a tattered and torn glove worthy of collecting? When it once belonged to the third highest scoring ace in aviation history Günther Rall. The glove (with its thumb visibly damaged from a 1944 air raid in whichRall was hit in the left hand by gun fire), a painted portrait of Rall as a prisoner of war, and his diary from 1942 were all recently donated to the Museum.
Ninety years ago today, on March 16, 1926, Robert H. Goddard (1882-1945) launched the world’s first liquid-propellant rocket. His rickety contraption, with its combustion chamber and nozzle on top, burned for 20 seconds before consuming enough liquid oxygen and gasoline to lift itself off the launch rack. The rocket took off from a snowy field outside Worcester, Massachusetts, reaching a height of about 12.5 meters (41 feet) and a distance of 56 meters (184 feet). It was smashed on impact. Goddard, his wife Esther, and a couple of assistants from Clark University, where he was a physics professor, were the only witnesses.