National Air and Space Museum

The one building I actually went in while walking around the Washington Mall (not counting monuments/memorials) was the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. I was somewhat pressed for time and hadn’t made it to the capitol yet so I didn’t spend nearly as much time here as I’d have liked to, but I did make it through the obvious rooms that had space artifacts in them.

I got scolded for trying to take a picture while standing in the line for security, so here’s my picture of Space Ship One from inside the security barrier:
Space Ship One

Of course the National Air and Space museum has the Apollo 11 (first manned moon landing) capsule. It’s in the lobby, along with the capsules from Mercury Friendship 7 (first manned US orbital flight) and Gemini 4 (first US space walk).
Apollo 11

Also posted as the header picture for this post, one of the several airplanes hanging from the ceiling in the lobby (aka the “Milestones of Flight” gallery) was an X-15 rocket plane:
You can see the Mercury and Gemini capsules underneath the rear of the plane.

At the east end of the ground floor hall is the ground test article for the Apollo Lunar Module:
Lunar Lander

I skipped the skylab exhibit (there’s one in Houston) and apparently didn’t take a picture of the Hubble mockup/model, but I did get a good picture of the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project display:
Apollo-Soyuz Test Project

Here’s a picture of a Nazi V-1, included largely because behind it to the left you can see the model of the Hubble Space Telescope.

Having posted a picture of a V-1 I might as well follow it up with a V-2:

Washington Mall

The last day of my trip to DC I had nothing specific planned and my flight didn’t leave till nearly 3pm so I spent the morning walking around the Washington Mall.

I started a couple blocks north of the White House. You can get a lot closer to the building itself from the North, and that’s where the protesters were (as well as a very visible police presence). The south side was just packed with tourists (including a surprisingly large group of people getting their picture taken in front of the Executive Office Building for some reason), but there was a nice view across the south lawn.
White House

The Washington Monument is visible from all over the area so I ended up with tons of pictures of it, but this is one of the few where it was actually the focus of the picture:
Washington Monument

Unfortunately you can barely see Lincoln at all from the picture I took from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, so here’s the picture of the large room inside the monument:
Lincoln Memorial

I didn’t know it was there until I came across it walking from the Lincoln Memorial to the Jefferson Memorial, but there’s a rather large memorial to FDR along the west side of the tidal basin. Here’s the statue of FDR and his dog:
FDR Memorial
Several of the statues in the memorial had the patina worn off where people touch them: it made for an odd emphasis on certain spots.

Here’s the view of the Jefferson Memorial and the Washington Monument across the tidal basin where the FDR memorial ended:
Tidal Basin

The dome of the capitol building is currently being repaired. I didn’t remember that it was made of cast iron, but apparently it needs work every few decades.
Capitol Building

The library of congress is just south-east of the capitol. Once I figured out what it was I figured it was worth a picture:
Library of Congress

The supreme court is just north of the library of congress. There were a bunch of people with lawn chairs and sleeping bags on the sidewalk to the side, presumably in support of one side of something the court is deciding on, so I walked nearly to the front of the building to get a picture of the facade:
Supreme Court

Here’s the view of the mall from the west side of the capitol building. The Ulysses S. Grant Memorial is in the foreground with the Washington Monument in the background (and the Lincoln Memorial just visible behind it).
Washington Mall

Udvar-Hazy Center

I recently had the chance to go to Washington D.C. for work and stayed through the weekend to play tourist. The highlight of the trip was Saturday, when I spent most of the day in the Smithsonian Udvar-Hazy Center.

I just so happened to be there for the event they put on for the 25th anniversary of the Hubble Space Telescope. They had two panels of astronauts talking about Hubble servicing missions and answering questions, as well as various other talks throughout the day. They were also giving out bookmarks and prints of pictures taken by Hubble. I listened to some of the astronaut presentations but was mostly distracted by the abundance of hardware in the museum. Unfortunately they had one end of the space hangar blocked off with the stage so I didn’t get to go see the Spacelab exhibit.

Usually when I visit somewhere that is significant enough to me that I want a souvenir I stop by the gift shop on my way out so I don’t have to carry it longer than necessary. At this museum I spent an hour or two in the space hanger, then realized how much time had already passed and went to the gift shop early because I was worried that otherwise I might miss the chance at the gift shop due to wandering the museum till close. It turned out I had over half an hour to spare by the time I left, but that was still nearly the entire day spent looking at their artifacts and exhibits.

Space Shuttle Discovery

I was most excited to see a space shuttle orbiter up close. It didn’t disappoint and I ended up with over 30 pictures of it, so I’ll try something new and post them in a gallery so this post isn’t entirely consumed by space shuttle pictures.

They had guided tours going constantly. I didn’t follow one around, but I did occasionally listen in at the stations that interested me. Of particular note was the space shuttle tour stop, where the guide pointed out that the scoring on the heat tiles gives an indication of the angle of attack of the shuttle on re-entry. If you notice in the picture of it that I posted: it’s as much up as back, indicating that the shuttle wasn’t doing much gliding (at least during the hottest phase of entry). The guide commented that it came down like a “homesick rock.”

Also in the space hangar, they had an unflown Mercury capsule (Freedom 7-II) complete with the retro-rockets that were to be fired for re-entry:
Friendship 7-II

Mary Baker Engen Restoration Hangar

The Udvar-Hazy center is where all artifacts in the air and space museum go for restoration. Since the restoration area is just additional hangar space attached to the back of the museum there’s an observation deck that museum visitors can view the planes in restoration from.


Apparently Air France agreed to give the Smithsonian a Concorde after it was retired all the way back in 1989. They delivered on that agreement in 2003.