Many folks would like to see us back on the Moon and developing its resources.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Smithsonian - National Air and Space Museum

While visiting the daughter and family in northern Virginia, we went to the Smithsonian near Dulles airport, Washington D.C. and had a nice time.

Extended Summer Hours:
March 29 - September 5
10:00 am - 7:30 pm
Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center
The Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center near Washington Dulles International Airport is the companion facility to the Museum on the National Mall. The building opened in December, 2003, and provides enough space for the Smithsonian to display the thousands of aviation and space artifacts that cannot be exhibited on the National Mall. The two sites together showcase the largest collection of aviation and spaceartifacts in the world.

The Center was named in honor of its major donor, and features the large Boeing Aviation Hangar in which aircraft are displayed on three levels. Visitors can walk among aircraft and small artifacts indisplay cases located on the floor, and view aircraft hanging from the arched ceiling on elevated skywalks. Many engines, helicopters,ultra-lights, and experimental flying machines are on display in amuseum setting for the first time. Among the aviation artifacts on display are the Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird, the fastest jet in theworld; the Boeing Dash 80, the prototype of the 707; the Boeing B-29Superfortress Enola Gay; and the deHavilland Chipmunk aerobaticairplane.

After going to the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center we watched Transformer2 on DVD at daughters house in Woodbridge Virginia. It was nice to see the scenes shot at Dulles Smithsonian after having looked at the displays and the SR-71 Black Bird. In the movie the SR-71 turns into a transformer and knocks down a wall getting out. At the museum they have a display of model transformers so you knew what to look for in the movie.

I took a picture of one of Robert McCall's wall paintings. I had bought "The Art of Robert McCall: A Celebration of Our Future in Space(Hardcover) earlier in the month, used like new, from for $34.99. Was nice to see the full size article.

The next day we went into Washington D.C. and saw the cherry trees in bloom and looked through the Smithsonian National Museum of American History.

There is really too much to see and take in if you are limited by time and I wanted to see the Air and Space museum so we did not battle the crowds for the other museums along the mall. You saw tour busses from all over letting off their passengers. A very popular place to be.

We walked across the mall to the National Air and Space Museum.

National Air and Space Museum.
The National Air and Space Museum on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. has hundreds of original, historic artifacts on display, including the Wright 1903 Flyer; the Spirit of St. Louis; the Apollo11 command module Columbia; and a Lunar rock sample that visitors can touch.
The Museum offers 22 exhibition galleries, the Lockheed Martin IMAX Theater, flight simulators, a three-level Museum shop, and a food-court-style restaurant. Docent tours, daily free educational programs, and school group tours and activities are also available.

The history of human space exploration is detailed in two exhibitions. To learn about the American and Soviet competition, visit Space Race,where artifacts on display include the V2 ballistic missile, a full-size Hubble Space Telescope test vehicle, and the backup Skylab space station that visitors can walk through.

Gene Nelson, PhD, a lunar-update reader, works as a docent at theNational Mall location of the National Air and Space Museum.

We met Gene and he gave us a very interesting tour of the Hubble Telescope, the CORONA spy camera satellite and the U-2.

It was great to have a guide to tell you about the behind scenes operations.

New Acquisition: Corrective instruments from the Hubble Space Telescope

The Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum recently obtained two monumental instruments on loan from NASA’s Goddard Space FlightCenter. The Hubble Space Telescope’s corrective optics spacetelescope axial replacement, COSTAR, and the Hubble’s wide-fieldplanetary camera WFPC2 are both now on view at the National Air andSpace Museum. COSTAR is on display at NASM in the new “Moving Beyond Earth” exhibition and the WFPC2 is on temporary display through January 10 in Space Hall, in front of a full moddle of the Hubble Space Telescope

Gene pointed out pit marks from space debris hitting the outer skin ofthe Hubble’s wide-field planetary camera. We also looked at the Corrective Optics Space Telescope Axial Replacement—COSTAR.

Gene gave us an indepth overview of the CORONA spacecraft and its camera system. There is film strung from one end to the other to make it possible to take pictures and roll the film up onto reel canisters that could then be dropped and snagged by aircraft as it fell through the air.

National Air and Space Museum Press Kit

1995 The National Air and Space Museum acquires the formerly top-secret "Keyhole" camera from the Corona spacecraft, the world's first spy satellite. Other notable 1995 acquisitions include an Ilyushin Il-2M3 Shturmovik and a flight data recorder, commonly referred to as a "black box." (May)

-------------------------------------------------------, Corona, KH-4B
Manufacturer: Itek Corporation
Country of Origin: United States of America
Dimensions: Overall: 5 ft. 8 in. tall x 5 ft. 2 in. wide x 5 ft. 5 in. deep (172.7x 157.5 x 165.1cm)
Materials: Metal, glass, polyester film

The KH-4B was the last and most advanced camera system used in Project Corona, America and the world's first photo reconnaissance satellite program. Between August 1960 and May 1972, when the program ended, 145 Corona satellites were launched and they produced over 800,000 usable images of the USSR and other nations. Film return capsules containing the exposed film separated from the spacecraft in orbit, reentered the atmosphere, and were retrieved in midair. The Itek-made KH-4B camera was used from 1967 until the end of the program and under ideal conditions produced a ground resolution of 6 feet. This artifact was reconstructed from spare parts and was transferred to NASM by theNational Reconnaissance Office in 1995.

Transferred from the National Reconnaissance Office.


The day was too short and we had a Metro Rail ride to take back to our car in Virginia so had to bid Gene Nelson goodbye.

It was great to put a face to a lunar-update reader. Much thanks Gene.

Thanks for looking up with me.- LRK -

Web Site:
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Eye in the Sky: Story of the Corona Spy Satellites (SmithsonianHistory of Aviation & Spaceflight) (Hardcover)

From the Author
An insider's history of early U.S. reconnaissance programs.

Unlike previous books on American reconnaissance satellite programs,this book benefited from extensive cooperation from both the CIA andthe National Reconnaissance Office (NRO). It is not simply acompilation of magazine and newspaper articles, many of them often filled with mistakes or incomplete data. It is based upon previously classified documents, interviews, and first-hand accounts from the participants in the program who can now tell their stories for the very first time. Indeed, the book features the first official published history of the NRO, written by the organization's former historian. It also features chapters on the benefits of satellite reconnaissance to the president and his advisors, the politics and international tensions which led to the creation of strategic reconnaissance, and the technical development of the hardware itself. There is also a chapter on the Soviet Zenit reconnaissance satellite which served as a counterpart to CORONA. Finally, the book features the words of many of the people who built, operated and used CORONA--people who are virtually unknown outside of the intelligence community, but legends within it.


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