National Air And Space Museum

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.

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.

The Astronauts and Cosmonauts of the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project

The U.S. astronauts took Russian language courses; the Soviets took English courses. Both teams agreed that in space, the Americans would speak to their Soviet counterparts in Russian who in turn would speak English to the Americans.

Photo courtesy of Astronauts (L-R Donald K. Slayton, Vance D. Brand and Thomas P. Stafford) and cosmonauts (L-R Valery N. Kubasov and Alexey A. Leonov) of the Apollo-Soyuz mission at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. 

This week we’re counting down to our Thursday noontime space program happening in partnership with NASA, The Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, and the Presidential Libraries of the National Archives

Watch it live tomorrow on our UStream channel: