National Air And Space Museum

The space shuttle Discovery is shown attached to a modified NASA 747 aircraft at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida April 16, 2012. Discovery is expected to be flown to its final home at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia on April 17. [REUTERS/Joe Skipper]

Amelia Earhart, Bendix Radio Direction Finder Loop Antenna (Nimbus), 1937.


Moon Tongs

This Saturday, The National Archives and its Presidential Libraries will be at the National Air and Space Museum’s annual Space Day.  

We’ll be hosting activities including:

  • A Mission Checklist hunt for Apollo-related items at the National Archives and the Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.
  • A Presidential Pop Quiz on U.S. Presidents and the Space Program.

Want a head start on your Mission Checklist? These Moon Tongs were used by Apollo mission astronauts to collect lunar samples.

The tongs are from the holdings of the Nixon Presidential Library and can be seen for a limited time in the “Nixon and the U.S. Space Program” display at the National Archives in D.C.

Close-up view of a set of tongs, an Apollo Lunar Hand Tool, being used by Astronaut Charles Conrad Jr., to pick up lunar samples during the Apollo XII mission, November 19, 1969. Photo courtesy of NASA.

President Nixon standing in the Oval Office holding the set of tongs used by astronauts during Moon surface explorations, January 27, 1970.

This set of tongs was used to collect lunar samples from the “Ocean of Storms,” the largest dark spot on the Moon’s surface, during the Apollo XII mission. It was presented to President Nixon by astronauts Charles Conrad, Jr., Richard Gordon, Jr., and Alan Bean.

More on the Presidents and the Space Program from this year’s Centennial Celebrations of Presidents Nixon and Ford


DC antiwar protest at National Air & Space Museum gets out of hand

They were protesting a drone exhibit. The antiwar movement got a real kick in the pants today after a high-profile protest tied to Occupy DC and the similar Stop the Machine demonstration led to the shutdown of a well-known Smithsonian museum. One protester was arrested and another was pepper-sprayed during the protest. Honestly, we’re not sure how we feel about this one. We’ve been here before (there’s an IMAX theater here) and the museum is fairly innocuous and family-oriented. A lot of kids go there, a cred point underscored by the fact that the second “Night at the Museum" movie was partly set there. And based on a lot of the comments on the YouTube video, that seems to be what’s angering people — not the protest itself. What do you all think? Was this the right venue for this protest? source

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Kids from 1997 Discover Smithsonian Institution Via the World Wide Web

The Kids’ Guide to the Internet will remind you of a not so distant past when the Internet was brand new and no one really knew what to do with it.

At the 6:00 mark, the Jamison family, the most 90s family EVER, explores the Smithsonian archives using a dial-up connection and the Netscape browser.

While the URL for the institution has changed ( is now owned by Sports Illustrated), you can still visit the Smithsonian without ever leaving home at

Ed note: Hey Peter, if you’re still interested in the Wright Flyer, here is the National Air and Space Museum’s updated page.

Airline Poster, c. 1969

This week’s Smithsonian Snapshot marks the start of summer with this 1969 airline poster.

The Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum’s collection of more than 1,300 posters focuses on advertising for aviation-related products and activities. In the mid 1900s, airline advertisements like this one from Continental Airlines promoted exotic travel destinations.

This multicolor screen print shows a Hawaiian surfer wearing orange-and-red swim trunks and pink lei. In the background a volcano hidden among a lush, green jungle explodes with a swirl of warm colors. The black lines and bright solid colors are typical of psychedelic posters from the 1960s.

The poster collection is a unique representation of the cultural, commercial and military history of aviation. It represents an intense interest in flight, both public and private, during a significant period of its technological and social development.

To learn more about aviation advertising, visit the National Air and Space Museum’s “Fly Now” online exhibition website. To view more summer-related items at the Smithsonian, visit our summer Pinterest board.

This item is one of 137 million artifacts, works of art and specimens in the Smithsonian’s collection. It is not currently on display. To learn more about this item, visit the National Air and Space Museum website.

I went to Udvar-Hazy today.

Not only last time did I get mistaken as a tourist and have someone ask me if I “wanted a picture with me in it,”… wait, there was no other part to this story. Sorry!

But last time I took some great pictures from the observatory of the sunset. Goooood.



Space Food, Brownies, Apollo 11

Tomorrow is Space Day at the National Air and Space Museum!  The Presidential Libraries of the National Archives will be there hosting a Mission Checklist hunt. 

If you are in Washington D.C., come by to accept your mission and search for Apollo items at the National Archives and the Air and Space Museum. 

Among your necessities: compressed brownies sealed in 4-ply laminate. 

Learn more about space food from the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.  Photo courtesy of the National Air and Space Museum.

More — Nixon and the Apollo Program

European astronomers have discovered a planet with about the mass of the Earth orbiting a star in the Alpha Centauri system — the nearest to Earth. It is also the lightest exoplanet ever discovered around a star like the Sun. The planet was detected using the HARPS instrument on the 3.6-metre telescope at ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile. The results will appear online in the journal Nature on 17 October 2012.

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Space shuttle Discovery, mounted atop a NASA 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA) flies near the U.S. Capitol, Tuesday, April 17, 2012, in Washington. Discovery, the first orbiter retired from NASA’s shuttle fleet, completed 39 missions, spent 365 days in space, orbited the Earth 5,830 times, and traveled 148,221,675 miles. NASA will transfer Discovery to the National Air and Space Museum to begin its new mission to commemorate past achievements in space and to educate and inspire future generations of explorers. Photo Credit: (NASA/Rebecca Roth)

Amelia Earhart’s Lockheed Vega 5B, 1932

On May 20 - 21, 1932, Amelia Earhart became the first woman—and the second person after Charles Lindbergh—to fly nonstop and solo across the Atlantic Ocean.

Flying this red Lockheed Vega 5B, she left Harbor Grace, Newfoundland, Canada, and landed about 15 hours later near Londonderry, Northern Ireland. The flight made Earhart an instant worldwide sensation and proved she was a courageous and able pilot.

Later that summer, Earhart flew the Vega setting another record. On August 24 - 25, 1932, she made the first solo, nonstop flight by a woman across the U.S., from Los Angeles to Newark, N.J. The flight covered a distance of 2,447 miles and lasted about 19 hours.

In June 1933, Earhart sold this Vega to Philadelphia’s Franklin Institute where it remained until transferred to the Smithsonian in 1966. In 1976, the sleek Vega was installed in the new National Air and Space Museum to recognize Earhart’s flights. The innovative combination of an internally braced wing and strong shell fuselage made the design a popular record-setting, private and commercial aircraft.

This item is one of 137 million artifacts, works of art and specimens in the Smithsonian’s collection. It is on display in the Barron Hilton Pioneers of Flight gallery at the National Air and Space Museum.

For more info, visit the National Air and Space Museum’s website.

To learn more about Earhart’s first transatlantic flight and the mail she transported, visit the National Postal Museum’s website. For more Women’s History Month events and resources, visit the Smithsonian’s Education website.