Smithsonian Air Space Museum

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"The National Air and Space Museum (NASM) Smithsonian Institution is a museum in Washington, D.C., United States, and is the most popular of the Smithsonian museums. It maintains the largest collection of aircraft and spacecraft in the world. It is also a vital center for research into the history, science, and technology of aviation and spaceflight, as well as planetary science and terrestrial geology and geophysics. Almost all space and aircraft on display are originals or backup crafts to the originals.

The National Air and Space Museum is widely considered one of Washington's most significant works of modern architecture. Because of the museum site's close proximity to the United States Capitol, the Smithsonian Institution wanted a building that would be architecturally impressive but would not stand out too boldly against the Capitol Building. St. Louis-based architect Gyo Obata of Hellmuth, Obata and Kassabaum accepted the challenge and designed the museum as four simple travertine-encased cubes containing the smaller and more theatrical exhibits, connected by three spacious steel-and-glass atriums which house the larger exhibits such as missiles, airplanes and spacecraft. The museum, built by Gilbane Building Company, was finished in 1976. The west glass wall of the building is used for the installation of airplanes, functioning as a giant door.

History:
Originally called the National Air Museum when it was formed on August 12, 1946 by an act of Congress,[4][2] some pieces in the National Air and Space Museum collection date back to the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia after which the Chinese Imperial Commission donated a group of kites to the Smithsonian. The Stringfellow steam engine intended for aircraft was accessioned into the collection in 1889, the first piece actively acquired by the Smithsonian now in the current NASM collection.

After the establishment of the museum, there was no one building that could hold all the items to be displayed. Some pieces were on display in the Arts and Industries Building, some were stored in a shed in the Smithsonian's South Yard that came to be known as the "Air and Space Building", and the larger missiles and rockets were displayed outdoors in "Rocket Row."

The combination of the large numbers of aircraft donated to the Smithsonian after World War II and the need for hangar and factory space for the Korean War drove the Smithsonian to look for its own facility to store and restore aircraft. The current Garber Facility was ceded to the Smithsonian by the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission in 1952 after the curator Paul E. Garber spotted the wooded area from the air. Bulldozers from Fort Belvoir and prefabricated buildings from the United States Navy kept the initial costs low.

The space race in the 1950s and 1960s led to the renaming of the Museum to the "National Air and Space Museum", and finally congressional passage of appropriations for the construction of the new exhibition hall, which opened July 1, 1976 at the height of the United States Bicentennial festivities. The Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center opened in 2003, funded by a private donation.

Collection and facilities:

A variety of aircraft displayed at the National Air and Space Museum. Most notable: Ford Trimotor and Douglas DC-3 (top and second from top)The central atrium of the NASM is the "Milestones of Flight" exhibit. Some of the most important artifacts of the aerospace history of the United States hang there, or sit on the floor of the atrium.

Hanging from the rafters:
The North American X-15, a rocket plane used for hypersonic flight research.
A replica of Pioneer 10 (actually the functional Pioneer H), the first space probe launched on a trajectory to escape the solar system, and the first to visit Jupiter.
The Spirit of St. Louis, in which Charles Lindbergh made the first solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean.
SpaceShipOne, the world's first privately built and piloted vehicle to reach space, designed by Burt Rutan and built by his company, Scaled Composites.
Voyager, a Burt Rutan-designed plane in which Burt's brother Dick Rutan and Jeana Yeager made the first non-stop non-refueled circumnavigation of Earth.
The Bell X-1 Glamorous Glennis, in which Chuck Yeager made the first powered supersonic level flight.
A model of Mariner 2, the first probe to successfully fly by another planet (Venus).
The Bell XP-59 Airacomet, the first viable American jet aircraft.

Other Selected exhibits:
The original Wright Flyer that made the first controlled, powered flight in 1903.
A German V-2 rocket constructed from captured components, the first man-made object to reach space.
A rock from Mars (a meteorite).
The original filming model of the starship USS Enterprise from the science fiction television series Star Trek.
The television camera of Surveyor 3, which was brought back from the moon by Apollo 12.
A backup copy of Skylab, America's first space station.
The Northrop M2-F3, a lifting body that was a precursor to the Space Shuttle Orbiter.
A model of one of the Voyager probes, which famously explored all of the solar system's gas giants in the 1980s.
Models of the full Apollo CSM, Soyuz spacecraft and docking module from the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project, all connected as the real articles were in orbit.
The nose/front section of a Northwest Airlines Boeing 747 Classic."
the visitor center

Smithsonian Air and Space Museum Washington D.C.

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