31 Aug NATIONAL AIR and SPACE MUSEUM – Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center

Source: Bjorn Moerman

Washington DC is known for its musea; one of them being the National Air and Space Museum (NASM) which holds very important Air and Space memorabilia such as the 1903 Wright Flyer, Charles Lindbergh’s Spirit of St Louis, the Apollo 11 command module and Bell X-1 first supersonic aircraft. 

Far less known is its sister museum at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy center at the Washington Dulles International airport about 40 miles west of the capital, which is also part of the Smithsonian institution. This much larger facility built in 2003, houses some of the larger air and spacecraft that couldn’t find a place in the museum downtown.
I visited the center while on a short 24hr layover in Washington earlier this month and was very impressed with the overal look and feel of the museum. The NASM group is known for only accepting “rare birds” in its collection; they are clearly after record breaking or last remaining machines rather than just displaying anything being donated. 

Its main attraction is clearly the Space Shuttle “Discovery”; which spend 365 days in space over 39 different space missions. I had seen a Shuttle mated to its Boeing 747 transporter, but had never been that close. Being brought up in the Space Shuttle era, it made me stand there admiring it for about an hour in absolute wow! 

I’ve heard people asking when they will clean Discovery, which is obviously the wrong question to be asking… Standing there gracefully just like she last came back from space on March 9 2011, it is a sight I will never forget…

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