Cutbacks Have Smithsonian Down, But Not Out

SmithsonianGovernment cutbacks have affected travel in a number of ways. Passport applications and renewals are taking longer, as is the process for requesting a visa. Traveling abroad, less security at U.S. facilities means less protection for Americans. National parks have closed some facilities and delayed opening of others. Now, even the Smithsonian Institution in Washington is feeling the impact of budget cuts.

“A reduction in a contract for security that supplements the Smithsonian security force affects some museums. The safety and security of the public and our collections will not be compromised,” said a notice on the Smithsonian website.

While no major exhibitions will be closed, the commons in the Smithsonian Castle, one room in the African Mosaic exhibit and sections of the permanent collection galleries in the Hirshhorn Museum will be unavailable for a short time.

On a positive note, the Smithsonian, a top budget travel destination, has a number of new exhibits underway of particular interest to fans of space travel that are unaffected.Extraordinary Voyages: 50 Years of Exploration is a NASA-supported lecture series at the National Air and Space Museum that started with a story that began 50 years ago when Mariner 2 flew by Venus and became the first successful mission to another planet. Upcoming events include a live webcast of the Exploring Space lecture, Vesta in the Light of Dawn on May 7, 2013. This program continues also because of support by aerospace contractor Aerojet.

Featured, fully-open exhibits at the National Mall in Washington, D.C., also include “Time and Navigation,” “Moving Beyond Earth,” “Fifty Years of Human Space Flight,” “Barron Hilton Pioneers of Flight,” and “The Wright Brothers & The Invention of the Aerial Age.

This video has more on how budget cuts are affecting the Smithsonian:



[Photo credit – Flickr user The Uprooted Photographer]

Space Shuttle Now Officially A Tourist Attraction

space shuttle

Space Shuttle Atlantis arrived this week at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex to begin life as the star of a $100 million exhibit called the Shuttle Launch Experience, expected to open in July 2013. It was the historic final journey of a space shuttle orbiter, signaling the beginning of life after space for the shuttle fleet.

“We think visitors to Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex will be awed and inspired by how they will see and experience Atlantis,” said Bill Moore, chief operating officer of Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in a statement.

Atlantis completed its historic final journey led by 30 former astronauts who joined the orbiter for the final leg of the trip. Parked in front of the last open wall of the 90,000-square-foot exhibit building, Atlantis will be encapsulated in a protective wrap while that wall is completed.

Once inside the visitor’s complex, Atlantis will be raised 36 feet off the ground then rotated about 43 degrees to mimic spaceflight. On display, its payload bay doors will be open and the robotic arm extended.

Along with Atlantis, the Shuttle Launch Experience will have over 60 interactive, immersive exhibits about the entire shuttle program including a 363-foot-long Apollo/Saturn V rocket and other unique space artifacts.

At the entrance to the Shuttle Launch Experience, guests will walk past a full-size external fuel tank and two solid rocket boosters. Strategically positioned, a silhouette of the orbiter is attached to show guests the exact size and placement of the 184-foot-tall space shuttle.

Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex opens daily at 9 a.m. Admission includes the Kennedy Space Center Tour, the new Shuttle Launch Experience, 3-D IMAX space films, Astronaut Encounter, Exploration Space: Explorers Wanted and the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame, featuring historic spacecraft and personal astronaut memorabilia. For more information, call 877-313-2610 or visit www.KennedySpaceCenter.com.

Right now and through November 12, the space center is offering a sneak peek, up-close and personal look at Atlantis as part of any tour. During scheduled times, a Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex tour guide will take guests through the construction zone and allow guests to take pictures and pose within the secured area.

NASA has spread around the tourism wealth by positioning remaining orbiters around the country. Enterprise is at the Sea-Air-Space Museum in New York City, Discovery is at
Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum in Virginia and Endeavour is at the California Science Center in Los Angeles, California.




[Photo Credit: NASA photo]

Space Shuttle To Fly One Last Time

space shuttleWhile NASA’s space shuttle program may have ended, the orbiters and other artifacts are being prepared for their new homes and the lessons learned through the program’s history are being gathered for future generations. On its way to the National Air and Space Museum, the shuttle Discovery will make one last flight later this month.

On Tuesday, April 17, NASA’s 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA) with space shuttle Discovery mounted atop will fly just 1500 feet above various parts of the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area.

Expected to fly between 10 and 11 a.m. EDT near landmarks including the National Mall, Reagan National Airport, National Harbor and the Smithsonian’s Udvar-Hazy Center, the SCA will land at Dulles International Airport upon completion of the flight.The exact route and timing of the flight, held in cooperation with the Federal Aviation Administration, will depend on weather and operational constraints. Live coverage of the event can be seen on NASA Television and the agency’s web site.

Discovery completed 39 missions, spent 365 days in space, orbited the Earth 5,830 times and traveled 148,221,675 miles from its maiden flight, STS-41-D on August 30, 1984, until its final landing during STS-133 on March 9, 2011.

Discovery was the first of the three active space shuttles to be retired, followed by Endeavour on June 1, 2011. The final shuttle mission was completed with the landing of Atlantis on July 21, 2011, bringing about the end of the 30-year program.

New Space Race As Shuttle Program Ends


[Flickr photo via NASA Goddard Photo and Video]

Smithsonian Archives unveils new website

Smithsonian
The Smithsonian Institution Archives records the development of America’s greatest museum. With a staggering amount of artifacts, recordings, books, and other records, it now has a new website designed to help people explore this matchless museum from home.

The archives got their first website back in the dial-up days of 1995. This newer website takes readers deeper into the Institution to see thousands of documents and photos, and get a behind-the-scenes look at the Institution at work and researching in the field. The Smithsonian Institution has 19 museums, nine research centers, and a Zoo. The records for all of these are kept at the archives. The site has pages on the history of each museum and research center, a timeline, and even a scan of James Smithson’s will, which left all his fortune to found the Institution.

The site has plenty of what everyone is looking for on the Internet: porn free downloads! You can get photos and documents for noncommercial use, everything from an old postcard showing lions shot on Teddy Roosevelt’s expedition to Africa to a cool photo of Soviet engineers assembling the Soyuz module to the Apollo module at the National Air and Space Museum. Detailed descriptions tell you more about each image or record.

On the forums you can even talk with Smithsonian staff and get tips on how to protect and preserve your family heirlooms. Also be sure to check out their blog, The Bigger Picture, and their amazing flickr photo stream, which.

[Photo courtesy cliff1066 via flickr]