Author Archives: The National Air and Space Museum

Apollo@45: Technological Virtuosity Remembered

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There is no question that the success of Project Apollo in the 1960s helped to create a culture of competence for NASA that translated into a level of confidence in American capability, and especially in the ability of government to perform effectively, to resolve any problem. Something that almost sounds unthinkable in the early twenty-first   …Continue Reading


The First Transpacific Passenger Flight

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Passed over S.F. Bay Bridge, along Embarcadero, Marina, Presidio, etc. Just after passing over Golden Gate Bridge encountered low cumulus clouds on the coast. “On top” from there on over “snowy desert.” Later clear & broken—smooth air. Early morning, “detoured” to south to avoid several storm areas. Arrived Honolulu (Pearl City) after passing over “Diamond   …Continue Reading


Skylab is Falling!

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Thirty-five years ago, on July 11, 1979, the first US space station fell out of orbit. It wasn’t a surprise or an error, nor was it a calamity. It was more like an intense meteor shower—sparkling and momentary—as Skylab entered the atmosphere. Very little of this spacecraft as large as a house was ever found   …Continue Reading


Remembering Frederick Ira Ordway, III

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Fred Ordway passed away in Huntsville, Alabama, on the morning of Tuesday July 1. We were friends for 40 years, but then I can’t think of anyone in the aerospace community with a wider circle of friends than Fred. We have a tradition at the Museum of honoring deceased aerospace leaders with a short obituary   …Continue Reading


Blazing the Trail in Space

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The first successful American “astronaut” is on display at the Smithsonian in the Apollo to the Moon exhibition. It’s not Alan Shepard, but Able, a rhesus monkey. Able and a squirrel monkey named Baker were the first American animals to enter space and return safely. On May 28, 1959 at Cape Canaveral, Able was placed   …Continue Reading