National Air and Space Museum

All Photos
To tell the story of the first American in space, the Museum has conserved and digitized the Mercury suit Alan Shepard wore during the first American manned space flight today in 1961. Discover the process of conserving and digitizing Shepard's suit:
“Why don't you just fix your little problem and light this candle.” Alan Shepard’s historic suborbital flight #OTD in 1961 launched on a modified U.S. Army Redstone rocket. The Mercury-Redstone Launch Vehicle was also used to launch Gus Grissom into space a few months later.
#TDIH in 1967: Ariel 3, the first satellite designed and built entirely in the United Kingdom, was launched into space by an American Scout rocket.
Alan Shepard's Mercury "Freedom 7" capsule was the first piloted spacecraft to join our collection. It went on display in the @smithsonian Aircraft Building in October 1961.
Alan Shepard became the first American in space a few weeks after cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first person in space. So how do these two spaceflights compare? Explore the differences in their missions, spacecraft, and more:
#OTD in 1961, Alan Shepard became the first American in space when he launched on a suborbital mission aboard his Mercury "Freedom 7" spacecraft. The mission lasted 15 minutes and 22 seconds. More on Shepherd's history making flight: #IdeasThatDefy
Last year on #StarWarsDay, we announced that an X-wing from filming of "Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker" was coming to the Museum as part of a long-term loan from Lucasfilm. We can't wait for it to go on display at the Museum later this year. #MayThe4thBeWithYou
On this day in 1963, the prototype of the Dassault Falcon, an executive jet aircraft, flew for the first time. The Museum's Dassault Falcon was the first FedEx Express aircraft:
In 2007, the USPS turned 400 standard blue mailboxes into Luke Skywalker's trusty droid R2-D2 and #StarWars fans visited them across the country. The Force is with us at the Udvar-Hazy Center, where one is on display: #Maythe4thBeWithYou #StarWarsDay
On this day in 1964, Jerrie Mock was awarded the FAA's Decoration for Exceptional Service for her groundbreaking solo flight around the world: #BecauseOfHerStory
This #StarWarsDay, explore an archived exhibit website from an internet far, far away (c.1999): #MayThe4thBeWithYou
After given only a three-month lifespan, the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter continues to fly on the surface of Mars, well exceeding expectations. Read about Ingenuity’s first year on the Red Planet in this new blog👇
Tech Sgt. Ben Kuroki was the only Japanese American to serve in air combat in the Pacific and one of very few soldiers at all to have fought in both the European and Pacific theaters. We reflect on his service in this blog: #AAPIHeritageMonth
Alan Shepard's Freedom 7 capsule will be on display in the new and upcoming Destination Moon gallery. In this preview of the exhibition, the capsule is being placed into it's new location. #TransformationTuesday
70 years ago today, U.S. Air Force pilots William Benedict and Joseph Fletcher landed a ski-and-wheel-equipped USAF C-47 Skytrain at the North Pole, becoming the first Americans to achieve the feat.
Third time's a charm. On this day in 1923, U.S. Army Air Service pilots Lt. John Macready and Lt. Oakley Kelly, on their third attempt to fly across the country nonstop in their T-2, successfully completed the first nonstop transcontinental flight.
Massive dust storms on Mars periodically engulf the planet. These storms continue to puzzle planetary scientists—and pose threats to future expeditions. We explore in the latest issue of Air & Space Quarterly: #ASQ
On this day in 1923, Lt. John A. Macready and Lt. Oakley G. Kelly took off from Roosevelt Field in New York in a Fokker T-2 transport to begin the first nonstop transcontinental flight: #IdeasThatDefy
In 1932, Katherine Cheung became the first woman of Chinese descent to earn a pilot's license in the United States. She performed aerobatics at fairs and air shows in California and regularly entered competitive air races. #SmithsonianAPAHM
On this day in 1963, our Grumman G-164 Ag-Cat rolled off the factory line. The Ag-Cat was the first aircraft specifically designed by a major aircraft company for agricultural aviation and is one of the most successful.
Althought it did not take off from the pad, Enterprise was used to conduct fit checks and launch pad procedures. One important test was a countdown demonstration that led to the discovery and prevention of ice buildup—crucial in future shuttle launches.
Spotlighted in this blog is the Lockheed U-2, one of the most successful intelligence-gathering aircraft. More on this high-flying spy plane, including a diplomatic incident that occurred #OTD in 1960, resulting in halted flights of the U-2:
Mercury astronaut Scott Carpenter was the second American to orbit the Earth. He served as an aquanaut, spending 30 days in 1965 living and working in a sea-floor habitat 205 feet below the surface. Carpenter was born today in 1925.
The Douglas SBD Dauntless was one of the truly great aircraft of World War II. It played a major role throughout the Pacific, and today in 1940 it flew for the first time. More on the SBD Dauntless in our collection:
#OTD in 1979, Space Shuttle Orbiter Enterprise was rolled out from Vehicle Assembly Building to Launch Complex 39 at @NASAKennedy.
The flashy uniforms used for marketing wouldn’t last. Conservative uniform styles reappeared following new laws that prohibited discrimination in hiring based on age, appearance, and gender. More details in the blog.
In 1968, United hired noted Hollywood fashion designer Jean Louis to create a stylish line of flight attendant uniforms. The uniforms came in multiple bright colors.
In this period of competition over the best amenities, commercial airlines made a splash by marketing themselves through what their (mostly female) flight attendants wore.
In the mid-1960s, Braniff Airways' "End of the Plain Plane" campaign rolled out brightly colored aircraft and flight attendant uniforms in fun, bold colors. Read more about the role of fashion in airline marketing in this blog:
The Douglas D-558-2 Skyrocket became the first aircraft to fly twice the speed of sound, at Mach 2. NACA used this Skyrocket, the second one built, to explore the flight characteristics of swept-wing aircraft. Learn more:
Bessie Coleman was determined to fly, and moved to France to make it happen. She became the first African American woman to earn a pilot’s license and continues to inspire pilots around the world. Coleman died at age 34, today in 1926. #BecauseOfHerStory
#TDIH in 1928: Spirit of St. Louis made its final flight to DC where Charles Lindbergh presented the aircraft to the Smithsonian. When it was later transported to the U.S. National Museum (now the Arts and Industries Building), its wings were separated from the fuselage.
The lunar roving vehicle (LRV) was used during the Apollo 16 mission (and others), enabling astronauts to travel farther distances. Read about the conservation treatment of our qualification test unit LRV, used for testing lunar functionality: #Apollo50
It may not be what you'd expect a science lab to look like but the Spacelab laboratory module was a well-equipped research facility flown in the payload bay of Space Shuttle Challenger—it launched #OTD in 1985. More on this module in our collection:
Space Shuttle Discovery and the crew of STS-31 touched back down on Earth having successfully deployed the Hubble Space Telescope, today in 1990.
#TDIH in 1954: Test pilot James F. "Skeets" Coleman made the first tethered flight in the Convair XFY-1 Pogo, a Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) aircraft. #IdeasThatDefy
Flying low or searching the cosmos—the jobs people do in the fields of aviation and space exploration are both innumerable and fascinating. This #ASQ article explores lesser-known ways people in diverse specialties are embracing new challenges.
Dennis Tito became the first space tourist, today in 2001, launching aboard Soyuz TM-32 to the ISS in this Sokol KV-2 spacesuit. Tito paid a reported $20 million for this adventure: #IdeasThatDefy
#OTD in 1961, Mercury capsule #14 was launched on its second uncrewed launch escape system test at Wallops Island:
Combat and test pilot, Gemini and Apollo astronaut, statesmen and museum director. We remember the life and legacy of our friend Michael Collins who passed away one year ago:
#TDIH in 1927: Charles Lindbergh took the pilot seat of the Spirit of St. Louis and flew the history-making aircraft for the first time. Three weeks later, he would pilot the aircraft on the first solo nonstop transatlantic flight: #AirSpacePhoto
One more splashdown picture it is! Here’s the moment of impact at landing, after a successful Apollo 16 mission to the Moon and back. #Apollo50
In 1974, @NASA transferred this parachute to our Museum—one of the three main parachutes deployed to safely return the Apollo 16 command module after its successful lunar mission. #Apollo50
🏌️‍♀️ + 🦅 = Gulfhawk! The unique Gulfhawk was flown in the 1930s by Al Williams, former chief test pilot fo@USNavyvy and famed aerobatic pilot. The aircraft was used in air shows to promote military aviation during the inter-war years when aviation budgets were lowjR
“You say goodbye and I say hello!” 10 years ago today, we officially said farewell to Space Shuttle Enterprise as it took off for @IntrepidMuseum. Staying with us was the Space Shuttle Discovery. Read more in "When Enterprise Met Discovery," on our blog:
Apollo 16 splashdown! After a successful lunar landing mission #Apollo16 splashed down in the Pacific, 50 years ago today. All three of the parachutes successfully deployed to slow the spacecraft's rate of descent for a safe landing. We have one in our collection. #Apollo50
We've been posting #10YearsOfDiscovery content to celebrate the anniversary of Space Shuttle Discovery at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia. It arrived at the Museum in April 2012. This video highlights Discovery's colossal impact.
Think about the last time you purchased an airplane ticket. More than likely, you bought that ticket online, but that’s just one of the many ways computers have become crucial to the airline industry. Read about how computers advanced airline operations.
The Turner RT-14 Meteor was an air racer designed and flown by famed racing pilot Roscoe Turner. As seen in these images, it was the first aircraft moved into our upcoming Nation of Speed exhibition. #TransformationTuesday
Thanks to the Apollo 16 mission to the Moon and back, we were given this unique view of North and Central America in 1972. #Apollo50
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