Author Archives: The National Air and Space Museum

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


Keeping Watch on Venus

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Venus has almost the same diameter as the Earth and is the next closest planet to the Sun. The similarity ends with the weather report, however. The surface temperature is more than 465 o C (870o F) and atmospheric pressure is 90 times that of Earth. The surface is hidden from view by a dense blanket   …Continue Reading