Author Archives: The National Air and Space Museum

Obscure Objects: Paul Garber’s Target Kites

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Paul Garber (1899-1992) is a legend around the National Air and Space Museum, and rightly so. An aviation enthusiast and skillful kite- and model-maker since childhood who once watched Orville Wright fly overhead, he started working at the Smithsonian in 1920, building models and preparing aviation-themed exhibitions. For the next 72 years he dedicated himself   …Continue Reading


Hands and Gloves in Space

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There is a common saying that the hands are where the mind meets the world. In space there is no direct contact between the mind and the world. This transaction is mediated by the artificial structures called gloves. I came to realize the extent of this interference most profoundly several weeks ago when I saw   …Continue Reading


Advising on the Star Trek Starship Enterprise

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Who do you call when you need to know everything there is to know about the Star Trek starship Enterprise? As the curator for that artifact—the original 11-foot model used in filming the Star Trek television program that aired from 1966 until 1969—I’ve spent a lot of time thinking and learning about Star Trek. The   …Continue Reading


So, you got a drone for the Holidays…now what?

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The year 2014, may well be called the “year of the drone.” While militaries around the world (and the United States in particular) have become increasingly dependent on Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) (the gender neutral “uninhabited” has yet to catch on) over the past decade and a half, this year civilian users overtook military operators   …Continue Reading


Obscure Objects: Tom Stafford’s Jingle Bells and Wally Schirra’s Harmonica

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It is not unusual for astronauts who find themselves in space around December 25 to display a little holiday spirit. Gemini VI astronauts Tom Stafford and Wally Schirra were no exception. Gemini VI was originally scheduled to launch on October 25, 1965 and dock with the unmanned Agena Target Vehicle, but the flight was canceled   …Continue Reading