National Air and Space Museum, Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center – Part VI

Still into cat reruns . . . . 


Really, it’s now more of a habit than serious subterfuge to attract them chicks.  Not only that, most guys are not even showing up . . . maybe they are turned off by the cat.

Part VI . . . wow . . . who would have thunk it!  I must have snapped a crapload of photos.

Why, yes Bob; yes I did!

This portion departs from looking at planes, and heads out into (figurative) space.

Note: I just found out that all the links in the Smithsonian catalog changed. That means that links referencing the museum’s database will return a dead link error (error 404). I’m not going back through the posts to update the links. One, because it’s a lot of work, and two, because no one mentioned it. If you’re looking for the Smithsonian’s entry for a plane, just search under the name.

Shuttle Discovery
Shuttle Discovery

The very front of the shuttle looks, in this shot, like the face of a mouse, complete with large up-turned nose and front teeth hanging down.


A very impressive machine, especially when one considers it has been to and from low orbit 39 times, spent a total of 365 days in space, and traveled 150 million miles.


The cost to build a shuttle is somewhere between $1 billion and $1.7 billions, and it cost $450 million to launch.  This particular shuttle is the Space Shuttle Discovery.  After the loss of each of its two sister ships (Challenger and Columbia), Discovery was the “return to space” shuttle.


It’s also the shuttle that deployed the Hubble Telescope, and the shuttle that took John Glenn back to space, making him the oldest person to go into space (he was 77 at the time).

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There is a lot of stuff in the same room as the Shuttle.  Not only on the ceiling, but all around as well.

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Some things I just photographed, but did not examine all that closely.


One can always go to the Udvar-Hazy Center website and look at their floorplan interactive map.  There, you can click on particular displays to get information about all that is there.

Of interest were the things hanging from the ceiling.


And they too came with a navigation map.


So, let’s see . . . first up, the satellites of the Explorer Program.

Item No. 1 – Explorer 1.  This was the first satellite launched by the United States, and it marks the beginning of the Cold War Space Race between the US and the Soviet Union.  The satellite discovered the Van Allen radiation belt.  Uninformed people with limited processing power above the neck maintain the Van Allen belt is one of the reasons we would not have been able to go to the moon, and the Apollo 11 moon landing was a hoax.  Not that it will matter much to the “true believer”, but the common arguments are discussed HERE and HERE. The Myth Busters did a segment on it.

Item No. 2 – Explorer 6. This satellite was the first to return pictures of the Earth taken from orbit.

Item No. 3 – Explorer 7. This satellite studies Earth’s solar heat balance, and its effect on weather.  Explorer 7 started the study of climate by satellites.

Item No. 4 – Explorer 8.         Item No. 5 – Explorer 10.

Item No. 6 – Explorer 12.       Item No. 7 – Explorer 17.

Item No. 8 – Explorer 18.        Item No. 9 – Vanguard 2.

Item No. 10 – Vanguard 3a.      Item No. 11 – Vanguard 3.

Item No. 12 – Lofti-1.           Item No. 13 – Pioneer 1.

Item No. 14 – Pioneer 5.         Item No. 15 – Ariel 1.

Item No. 16 – Alouette 1.

Here’s a few more view of them.  What?  Why no detailed description of all of them?  Come on!  I have trouble with people reading what little I write.  I figure a few are fine, but for the rest, anyone interested either already knows about them, or they can click on the links. 

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That last one is a first generation Tracking and Data Relay Satellite (TDRS).  It looks all neat and stuff, and with more bling than the other satellites.

But, make no mistake about this room . . . Discovery is the centerpiece.


I did a panorama from the floor, but realized I was still pretty close to the shuttle . . .


You get a better result shooting from the mezzanine . . .

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The back of the shuttle is very impressive.


Not impressed?



OK, one more.


Despite its size, history, and sheer presence, the thing does have a bit of a paper-mache look to it.


It’s the tiles; they give the orbiter a “weird” look.


Here’s the other side.


And here is some pertinent information . . . .


Can’t read it?  You could try the SmugMug Gallery (HERE).

Anyway, back to the tiles.


They have a coloring and texture that makes them look less than the high-tech and crucial things they are.  In the words of Joe banks . . . it looks fake.  But, in actuality, each tile is carefully positioned, screwed in, and numbered.  Imagine the responsibility of making sure each tile is properly installed.

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And here’s Canada’s contribution to the Shuttle Program . . . The Canadarm.


Used to deploy and retrieve satellites, to support/anchor astronauts out on spacewalks, and look cool while doing it.

Here are a few more shots of the orbiter sitting in its place of honor, no doubt bored out of its gord after having been to the edge of space so many times.




And here are a couple of views from the advantage of the walkway in the main portion of the museum.



All in all, a pretty neat thing, despite it being not cost efficient and probably a less-than-optimal choice for our space program.

Just the same, there is no denying the ability of the shuttle to capture the imagination.  I was lucky to see one shuttle launch, and it was spectacular to watch.

As usual, the full-size photos are in their own SmugMug Gallery (HERE). Most are probably not worth looking at full resolution (grainy due to the poor light), but the X3 size option is pretty decent. 

I have one more post, showing a few random planes, and then I will be done with this museum.

Note: many of the words are either paraphrased or directly copied from the corresponding Wikipedia pages, and sometimes from the Smithsonian’s own descriptions.  It’s worth noting Wikipedia is doing a fund drive.  If you can spare a few bucks, please do so.  They offer incalculable value for them who want to learn stuff.

 ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ o o o o o o ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Orderly Spermatozoa
Orderly Spermatozoa

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