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Author Topic:   Natl Air and Space Museum: Milestones of Flight
Robert Pearlman
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posted 04-03-2014 05:12 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
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'Milestone' makeover: Smithsonian Air and Space Museum to renovate main hall

The Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum is set to redefine the "Milestones of Flight," as it begins the first major renovation of its most iconic gallery.

The institution Thursday (April 3) announced that Boeing had donated $30 million in support of the Washington D.C. museum's educational activities and exhibitions, including the extensive redesign of the "Milestones of Flight" gallery in the museum's main hall.

The expanded gallery, which will be completed in time for the National Air and Space Museum's 40th anniversary in 2016 — the same year as Boeing's 100th anniversary — will "trace the interconnected stories of the world's most significant aircraft and spacecraft," museum officials said.

dogcrew5369
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posted 04-03-2014 05:33 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dogcrew5369   Click Here to Email dogcrew5369     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
How much of the museum will close for these renovations?

Glad I just got back to the National Air and Space Museum to see it once more before they begin.

Maybe they will display the Apollo 11, Friendship 7 and Gemini 4 capsules like the Russian TMA module next to the Apollo-Soyuz display. The plexi-glass wrapping really makes it hard to get nice detailed photos. Looking forward to the renovation.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 04-03-2014 06:31 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
As noted in the article:
As the "Milestones" gallery also serves as the entrance to the museum, it will remain open during its renovation, with only sections of it being closed off as work is undertaken to complete the redesign.
The museum has yet to share details, let alone formally announce renovations to the "Apollo to the Moon" gallery where Apollo 11's "Columbia" will be moving and "Freedom 7" will be going on display, but that may be more of an outright closure given the layout of the hall.

As for the capsule casings, I inquired with the museum and was told:

The plan is to protect the Gemini and Mercury capsules with glass or Plexiglas, but they will not be covered in a "skin" as they are now.

There will be some sort of case, completely protecting the capsules, with separate lighting, air filtering, and U/V protection. These plans are not finalized but the intention is to make them more visible than they are now.

Hart Sastrowardoyo
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posted 04-03-2014 08:15 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Hart Sastrowardoyo   Click Here to Email Hart Sastrowardoyo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Lunar Module 2 (LM-2), which is to be moved into the National Air and Space Museum's Milestones of Flight, is one of two existing lunar landers built for early Apollo missions.
Shouldn't that be one of two complete lunar landers (LM-2 and LM-9) since LM-13 wasn't finished (it's on display at Cradle of Aviation Museum.)

Or is there another LM in existence that this refers to? The boilerplate at Franklin Institute?

Robert Pearlman
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posted 04-03-2014 09:32 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The two count is via the museum, but I believe the keyword is "early" as in "early Apollo missions."

LM-2 was built for a second unmanned Earth-orbit test flight (D-mission) and LM-9 was built for the original Apollo 15, an H-mission.

According to the Cradle of Aviation, LM-13 was built for Apollo 18, a J-mission of the later Apollo flight-type.

Hart Sastrowardoyo
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posted 04-03-2014 10:14 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Hart Sastrowardoyo   Click Here to Email Hart Sastrowardoyo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Ah, OK. That's, in my opinion, a weird distinction. I would consider Apollos 9-12 'early,' 13 through 14 as middle, and 15 through 17 as later — the early missions having to do with proving the LM and landing it; 13 and 14 as the start of exploration (and LM-9 would be in this, had Apollo 15 used it) and the last three as extended stays.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 04-03-2014 10:28 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
From a hardware standpoint, the dividing line is Apollo 15 (as flown).

The J-missions flew the "extended LM," which included larger fuel and oxidizer tanks, an extension of the descent engine nozzle and rearranged stowage space.

LM-12
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posted 04-04-2014 05:40 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for LM-12     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I wonder if decades of sunlight and UV exposure has damaged any of the historic vehicles in the "Milestones of Flight" gallery. I think the Gemini 4 suits were removed years ago because of sunlight and UV damage.

The LM-2 and ASTP exhibits are also exposed to a lot of sunlight.

Never did understand why the NASM building was designed that way.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 04-04-2014 06:58 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by LM-12:
I think the Gemini 4 suits were removed years ago because of sunlight and UV damage.
To quote Amanda Young, the museum's former spacesuit curator:
Many years they were on display downtown, coming out of the [Gemini spacecraft]. The light damage, which was so bad, that [they] were sent back to David Clark and David Clark took the cover layers off and made replacement cover layers.
The suits were removed from the capsule in 1986, the cover layers were replaced and then the suits were reinstalled on display until 2007/8, when they were taken off exhibit for preservation.
quote:
Never did understand why the NASM building was designed that way.
According to the building's architect, Gyo Obata, sunlight was a factor considered in the design of the museum:
The building faces north and south. On the south is Independence Avenue with heavy traffic and lots of sun, which we muted. We created a series of theaters with blocked out areas for aircraft displays. The Mall side faces north. There I used big areas of glass because I did not have to worry about the sun's intensity. At night, people can look into the building and see the airplanes.

LM-12
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posted 04-04-2014 09:09 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for LM-12     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The "so bad" sunlight damage to the Gemini 4 suits indicates to me that the architect may have underestimated the sun's intensity.

In the first video above, you can see a lot of sunlight is going into that north gallery.
Most of the those Milestone vehicles have been there for decades. In my opinion, the museum renovations should include getting rid of that glass roof.

APG85
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posted 04-05-2014 08:52 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for APG85     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I believe the glass roof on the NASM has UV tinted glass.

A great deal of thought was put into its design. Planes like the Spirit of St. Louis that are suspended just below the glass had to have their fabric protected from the sun and the glass they picked was designed for this.

Spacesuits are another matter and need a whole different level of care and protection as they have learned over the years.

Astronaut Michael Collins was involved with some of the details as the initial director of the new museum. Incidentally, the glass panels were replaced/repaired/upgraded several years ago...

Robert Pearlman
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posted 04-05-2014 09:01 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by APG85:
Incidentally, the glass panels were replaced/repaired/upgraded several years ago...
According to a New York Times article, that upgrade in 2000-01 did indeed replace the skylights, which were originally acrylic rather than glass.
Gyo Obata, the architect who designed the Air and Space Museum more than two decades ago, called for glass skylights in his original design, but opted for acrylic plastic, he said in an interview, because of "tremendous pressure" from the General Services Administration to keep the budget within the $40 million allocated by Congress.

...Besides installing a new glass skylight system, the renovation entails replacing virtually all of the building's windows with models that block damaging ultraviolet sunlight...

328KF
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posted 04-05-2014 07:17 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for 328KF   Click Here to Email 328KF     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
After being in that museum so many times since they opened the doors in 1976, it will certainly be strange seeing this gallery revamped. I'm equally excited to see the new Apollo gallery and how they incorporate CM Columbia into that, although it might seem a shame to have it leave center stage.

The one change I don't get is the Star Trek Enterprise model. Why have a movie prop surrounded all of these famous air and spacecraft?

I understand the popularity of the show (in reruns at least...I watched it as a kid too) but it hardly had the wide-ranging cultural impact of, say, Lindbergh's Atlantic crossing. I think the Smithsonian could do well with a dedicated "space in movies" themed gallery somewhere, and they have the Close Encounters model on display at Udvar-Hazy to incorporate as well. The International Spy Museum has done a fine job with a recent James Bond exhibition.

But depending on how it is presented, and that remains to be seen, this may be a "swing and a miss" (baseball term) for NASM.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 04-05-2014 10:35 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by 328KF:
Why have a movie prop surrounded all of these famous air and spacecraft?
Here is what the Smithsonian says about the choice to display the Enterprise:
Star Trek pushed the boundaries of network television with its depiction of a mixed-sex, racially-integrated, multinational crew and its attention to contemporary social and political issues. It will join other significant artifacts in this gallery to showcase the importance of popular culture's influence on society.

LM-12
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posted 04-06-2014 08:30 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for LM-12     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
That is their reasoning?

Then the prop belongs in a "Milestones of Television" gallery and not the NASM "Milestones of Flight" gallery.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 04-06-2014 11:04 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
"Milestones of Flight" is being redefined for the new hall.
In reenvisioning and renovating its Milestones exhibition, the museum aims to deepen visitors' understanding of how aviation and spaceflight have transformed the world. Since humans learned to fly, transportation has gotten faster and distant places more accessible. Advances in planetary exploration have made the universe seem larger, altering humans' ideas about themselves and the world. When the museum opened nearly four decades ago, the word "milestone" was defined as "the first" in flight or space travel. Now, the word will describe an artifact having significant or widespread cultural, historic, scientific or technological impact.
With the Wright Flyer off in its own gallery and with Columbia eventually moving to the expanded "Apollo to the Moon" hall, it makes sense to broaden the scope of "Milestones."

alanh_7
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posted 04-06-2014 06:55 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for alanh_7   Click Here to Email alanh_7     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
If they asked me... and they will not... I always thought Wily Post's Lockheed Vega Winnie Mae should always have been included in the Milestones of Flight gallery.

Post not only helped pioneer aerial navigation but also work on development of high attitude research and early pressure suits. The aircraft deserves to be right up there with other pioneering aircraft.

Skylon
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posted 04-06-2014 08:29 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Skylon     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
While I am going to hold judgement till I see the new displays, I always found Columbia resting, almost right underneath the Wright Flyer to be the perfect conveyance of the entire concept of "Monuments of Flight" — the first winged aircraft and the vehicle that achieved what is to date, the pinnacle of flight could be captured in the same frame of a photograph.

LM-12
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posted 04-07-2014 12:18 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for LM-12     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
From what I understand, neither of those two historic vehicles will be in the renovated "Milestones of Flight" gallery. If that is the case, then I give their redefinition a thumbs down.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 04-07-2014 12:30 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The Wright Flyer hasn't been a part of the Milestones gallery since 2003, when it was given its own dedicated gallery.

Columbia will be moving out, but Apollo 11 will still be represented by LM-2, which will be redressed and displayed as LM-5 "Eagle."

LM-12
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posted 04-07-2014 02:57 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for LM-12     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I thought the "Milestones of Flight" gallery was all about the flown vehicles that made those milestones.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 04-07-2014 08:38 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
As mentioned, the museum is redefining "Milestones" for this new hall.

But from its start, Milestones has not displayed only flown artifacts. The current hall has replicas of Robert Goddard's 1926 rocket, Sputnik and Pioneer 10, as well the backup for Explorer and the test article for Viking.

pupnik
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It's probably not worth getting down into the semantics of it. Remember, the large open space hall is called "Space Race" yet contains Hubble, ASTP, a 1990 Soyuz, a V-1 Missile, a Tomahawk Cruise Missile, etc.

onesmallstep
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posted 05-08-2014 10:02 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for onesmallstep   Click Here to Email onesmallstep     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Saw Gemini 4 just the other day wrapped in protective plastic, It looked like a preview of things to come with the upcoming renovations. Hopefully the changes will come with some good camera angles to capture all the vehicles on display.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 06-17-2014 10:20 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
According to the museum on Twitter:
Transformation of the Boeing Milestones of Flight Hall begins tomorrow! Stardust will move to "Exploring the Planets."

Robert Pearlman
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posted 09-16-2014 10:17 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
A preview of things to come (and go)...
On September 11, 2014, the studio model of the Star Trek starship Enterprise, which has been on public display at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum since 1976, was removed for conservation in preparation for its new display location in the Boeing Milestones of Flight Hall, which will open in July 2016.

328KF
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posted 09-16-2014 02:47 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for 328KF   Click Here to Email 328KF     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Since March of 2000, it had been in a custom-built display case on the lower level of the Museum's store.
I can't even remember how many times I have been in that gift shop in the 14 years this model was displayed there. When I read this my first thought was that I never even noticed it was there.

I must have been distracted by all of the real artifacts in the adjacent gallery.

p51
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posted 09-16-2014 06:23 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for p51   Click Here to Email p51     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I don't see having the TV Enterprise being in the main gallery any more an issue than having the replica Goddard rocket on display in the same gallery.

It's safe to say that Trek has done more to boost interest in the stars among multiple generations of people than most real-life things. It's no less as important as the stories of Jules Verne, just not as old.

The model was really hard to get photos of where it was before (harder to see during the Trek exhibit in the 90s, where it hanging well overhead), I took these shots of the model in 2009:

quote:
Originally posted by 328KF:
I can't even remember how many times I have been in that gift shop in the 14 years this model was displayed there. When I read this my first thought was that I never even noticed it was there.
I don't think a lot of people even noticed the escalator to the lower gift shop. I've even gotten into arguments with sci-fi fans into the existence of the lower gift shop, even among those who had recently been there and never noticed the lower one.

APG85
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posted 09-16-2014 06:42 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for APG85     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I like Star Trek but having a model from a TV show in the same company as the Spirit of St. Louis just doesn't seem right. I think it would be better off over in the National Museum of American History in their television area...

MrSpace86
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posted 09-17-2014 01:34 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for MrSpace86   Click Here to Email MrSpace86     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by APG85:
I like Star Trek but having a model from a TV show in the same company as the Spirit of St. Louis just doesn't seem right. I think it would be better off over in the National Museum of American History in their television area...

Totally agree with this. Might as well bring in a Millennium Falcon too.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 09-17-2014 01:55 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
One of the curatorial divisions at the National Air and Space Museum is the cultural history of aviation and space exploration. There's no denying that "Star Trek" had a cultural impact on the history of the U.S. space program, from the number of workers who have cited watching the TV show as the reason they pursued a career in aerospace, to the naming of the space shuttle Enterprise and more. The original TV series was a milestone in how the public viewed space travel.

Many space historians point to the Collier's "Man in Space" series, and the spinoff Disney TV specials, as having played a significant role in selling the public on the space program. The "USS Enterprise" model represents how pop culture influenced and shaped NASA's course through history in that same spirit.

onesmallstep
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posted 09-17-2014 02:35 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for onesmallstep   Click Here to Email onesmallstep     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
And don't forget that actress Nichelle Nichols (Lt. Uhura on Star Trek) appeared in TV and print ads when NASA began to recruit a new astronaut class in the mid-70s for the coming Space Shuttle program. Having a recognizable face representing the 'new' NASA certainly didn't hurt.

The Colliers magazine/Disney series are important too, with the presence of von Braun as host and art by Chesley Bonestell providing a speculative but realistic look at future space travel. There have been many exhibits and artifacts that tread more on fictional representations in aeronautics and space at the Air and Space Museum, including a Snoopy WWI ace doll in the Great War exhibit gallery.

328KF
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posted 09-17-2014 03:01 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for 328KF   Click Here to Email 328KF     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I found it equally odd that the "Mothership" model from Close Encounters was displayed for a time in the space hangar at Udvar-Hazy. It just seemed out of place to me. It's a movie prop (granted a popular movie in the minds of visitors old enough to remember it) sitting among a space shuttle, Mercury and Gemini spacecraft, and flown space artifacts.

I get the cultural impact argument and all that, and I understand that the Smithsonian collects all sorts of artifacts for various reasons. I watched Star Trek too, but the main gallery is not the place for it.

That area has always been a focal point for the museum. It's not just that you're surrounded by so many famous air and spacecraft. You can look at each one and say, "Chuck Yeager flew that, Charles Lindbergh flew that across the Atlantic, Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins flew that to the moon." The machines connect you to the heroic people who accomplished the history.

What does a TV show prop do in that regard? William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, etc. were actors, not history makers. Shatner has even expressed his fear of flying on a private suborbital flight.

It will be interesting to see how they incorporate this into the gallery and how they explain it's placement there.

APG85
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posted 09-17-2014 03:43 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for APG85     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
There's a place for movie and TV props (and they have their place) but it's certainly not in the limited space of the Milestones of Flight gallery in the company of the X-15, the Ryan NYP, the Bell X-1 and the NASA spacecraft.

This gallery is the "hollowed ground" of some of the most historic aircraft and space vehicles ever flown. These planes and spacecraft need to be displayed simply and appropriately without "social commentary" to explain how they got there and why they are important. There are other places and museums for that. Just my opinion...

Ronpur
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I think that the fact the first space shuttle was named after this fictional starship gives it a right to be here, but maybe not in the main gallery. The cast was at the rollout (38 years ago today, in fact) and as mentioned, Nichelle Nichols played a big part in recruitment. I think it does fit in with the NASM, but just in another hall. Too bad it can't be with Enterprise on Intrepid.

Jurg Bolli
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posted 09-18-2014 03:34 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jurg Bolli   Click Here to Email Jurg Bolli     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I agree with APG85.

capoetc
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posted 09-18-2014 04:29 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for capoetc   Click Here to Email capoetc     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
In my heart, I agree with some who are saying that the Star Trek Enterprise model does not belong in the Milestones of Flight gallery.

However, we need to remember that part of the museum's mission is to educate the public about the past, present, and future of air and space flight. Many members of the public will struggle to identify the difference between a Mercury, Gemini, or Apollo spacecraft upon seeing one (and they may not know just from looking at it whether a Soyuz is US or Russian), but many of those same people will immediately recognize the iconic Star Trek model.

If the Enterprise model gets more traffic into the Nat'l Air and Space Museum, then maybe it is not such a harebrained idea...

mode1charlie
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posted 09-18-2014 07:27 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for mode1charlie   Click Here to Email mode1charlie     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by capoetc:
If the Enterprise model gets more traffic into the Nat'l Air and Space Museum, then maybe it is not such a harebrained idea...
I agree with you, John. It's not ideal, but it's the world we live in, and if it gets people in the door in order to educate and inspire them, then so be it.

Skythings
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posted 09-18-2014 09:30 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Skythings   Click Here to Email Skythings     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
There is no doubt the Starship Enterprise has it's limited rightful place in history, however it is make believe, Hollywood and fake. Let me be blunt. It has no business beside those historical aircraft and spaceships in the Milestones of Flight Hall. This lessens and cheapens the significance of those rightful and incredibly priceless artifacts and to the brave men and women who accomplished what it took to put them there.

When I travel to France and visit the Louvre to view the Mona Lisa, I do not expect to have to view a velvet painting of Dogs Playing Poker before seeing the masterpiece. Yes both have some historical significance, but nothing can hold a candle to the other.

In 2010, when I flew to Washington DC, my first full day was in that museum and I had zero interest in seeing a model of the Star Trek Enterprise. I wanted to be up close and inspect the command module Columbia and John Glenn's Friendship 7, the X-15 and the Spirit of St. Louis. I felt privileged to have had that opportunity. The Smithsonian is an amazing place and does not need cheap tricks to bring in more visitors.

I think it would be wonderful to create a standalone display featuring all those iconic television and movie depictions of space exploration and how they influenced the culture and actual spaceflight. Star Trek, Star Wars, 2001: A Space Odessy, The Jetsons, Apollo 13, Close Encounters, etc. An interesting display even for a space geek like myself. But not in the most important piece of Smithsonian real estate. Give you head a shake Mr. Daily.

Phasers to stun...

Hart Sastrowardoyo
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posted 09-18-2014 09:32 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Hart Sastrowardoyo   Click Here to Email Hart Sastrowardoyo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Well, the fictional starship Enterprise led to the first shuttle being named Enterprise. So one could argue that the model does have a place in the Smithsonian.


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