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Astronauts

National Portrait Gallery
The year 1968 was marked by rioting in the nation’s black ghettos and mounting protests over the war in Vietnam. Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy had been assassinated, and there had been a Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia. But as Time pointed out in its year-end summary, 1968 closed with an event that was bound to overshadow these other happenings. In late December, three astronauts (left to right) —William Anders (born 1933), Frank Borman (born 1928), and James Lovell (born 1928) —had embarked on the first successful human orbit of the moon, and on Christmas Eve, the trio reported live from their Apollo 8 spacecraft. The full implication of this achievement could not yet be understood. Nevertheless, Time could not help but conclude that of all the people who had made news in those past twelve months, Anders, Borman, and Lovell were the right choice for 1968’s “Men of the Year.”

Hector Garrido (born 1927)

El 1968 estuvo marcado por revueltas en los guetos negros del país y crecientes protestas por la guerra de Vietnam. Martin Luther King Jr. y Robert F. Kennedy fueron asesinados y los soviéticos habían invadido Checoslovaquia. Pero como señaló Time en su resumen de fin de año, el 1968 terminó con un suceso que opacaría a todos los demás. A finales de diciembre, tres astronautas —(desde la izquierda) William Anders (n. 1933), Frank Borman (n. 1928) y James Lovell (n. 1928) — habían emprendido el primer vuelo tripulado que orbitaría con éxito la luna, y en la víspera de Navidad reportaron en directo desde su nave Apolo 8. La magnitud de este logro aún no podía comprenderse a cabalidad, pero Time tuvo que concluir que, de todas las personas que habían sido noticia en los doce meses anteriores, Anders, Borman y Lovell eran la selección idónea como “Hombres del Año” para 1968.

Astronauts & Spaceships

Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
Children's paper with outer space motif containing rockets and spacemen. Spacemen are dressed in pink, green, or blue suits. A blue space ship is circling a planet, a pink rocket is ready to launch while a green space ship is flying. Metallic gold is used on a pink ground.

Apollo 11 Astronauts

Smithsonian Archives - History Div
Featured in Torch, July 1989

Apollo 11 astronauts (from left) Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Buzz Aldren reunited at the National Air and Space Museum for a filming session to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the July 1969 landing.

Mercury Seven Astronauts

National Portrait Gallery
When NASA opened its doors on October 1, 1958, one of its first tasks was to develop selection criteria for the first U.S. astronauts. Though the organization was ready to consider civilians, President Dwight D. Eisenhower declared that astronauts were to be chosen only from the nation’s active-duty test pilots. In 1959, NASA introduced the seven Project Mercury astronauts. Known as the Mercury Seven, they included (standing, from left to right): Alan Shepard (1923–1998), Walter Schirra (1923–2007), Virgil “Gus” Grissom (1926–1967), Scott Carpenter (1925–2013), John Glenn (1921–2016), Donald “Deke” Slayton (1924–1993), and Gordon Cooper (1927–2004). Flip Schulke photographed the group in 1961, as they gathered around a monitor displaying a gantry at Cape Canaveral, Florida. In May of that same year, Shepard became the first American in space, and several months later, Glenn became the first American to orbit the earth.

Una de las primeras tareas de la NASA, establecida el 1 de octubre de 1958, fue crear criterios de selección para los primeros astronautas estadounidenses. Aunque la agencia estaba dispuesta a considerar civiles, el presidente Dwight D. Eisenhower dijo que debían ser pilotos de prueba en servicio activo. En 1959 la NASA presentó a los siete astronautas del Proyecto Mercury. Conocidos como “los siete del Mercury”, eran (de pie, desde la izquierda): Alan Shepard (1923–1998), Walter Schirra (1923–2007), Virgil “Gus” Grissom (1926–1967), Scott Carpenter (1925–2013), John Glenn (1921–2016), Donald “Deke” Slayton (1924–1993) y Gordon Cooper (1927–2004). Flip Schulke los fotografió en 1961, reunidos en torno a un monitor donde se ve una grúa en Cabo Cañaveral, Florida. En mayo de ese año Shepard se convirtió en el primer estadounidense que llegó al espacio, y meses después Glenn fue su primer compatriota en orbitar la tierra.

African American Astronauts

Anacostia Community Museum

Even Astronauts Have Accidents

Smithsonian Magazine

Poster, 1998 Astronauts Picture

National Air and Space Museum
This poster was created for NASA's human spaceflight program. It features photographs of all NASA astronauts in 1998, organized alphabetically by last name.

NASA transferred this poster to the Museum in 2017.

Watch, Digital, "Young Astronauts"

National Air and Space Museum
This Young Astronauts digital watch was created as a part of the educational program launched by the White House in 1984 to encourage schoolchildren's interest in science and math. A Young Astronauts television program was shown in schools across the country and chapters of the Young Astronauts Program formed in schools and communities.

The watch was collected by Nancy Yasecko, a filmmaker who grew up in Florida near Cape Canaveral, and whose film "Growing Up with Rockets," released in 1985, is a personal memoir of growing up in the shadow of the United States' civil human spaceflight program. The watch is part of a collection of artifacts that Yasecko donated to the Museum in 2012 along with a copy of the film, which is held by the Museum's film archives.

Photograph, Project Mercury Astronauts

National Museum of American History
Gus Grissom, Alan Shepard, and John Glenn were three of the astronauts involved in the United States' first man-in-space program to successfully orbit a manned spacecraft around the earth.

29c Flying Astronauts single

National Postal Museum
mint

Sketch of Astronauts Dining

National Air and Space Museum
Sketch of Astronauts Dining. The head and shoulders of two astronauts are loosely sketched as they eat. The table is not defined but there are outlines of dishes in front of the astronauts. The astronaut on the left has shading on the lower half of his face and neck and the astronaut on the right is shaded with heavier strokes.

Double-sided, A19751143000 on reverse.

In March 1962, James Webb, Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, suggested that artists be enlisted to document the historic effort to send the first human beings to the moon. John Walker, director of the National Gallery of Art, was among those who applauded the idea, urging that artists be encouraged "…not only to record the physical appearance of the strange new world which space technology is creating, but to edit, select and probe for the inner meaning and emotional impact of events which may change the destiny of our race."

Working together, James Dean, a young artist employed by the NASA Public Affairs office, and Dr. H. Lester Cooke, curator of paintings at the National Gallery of Art, created a program that dispatched artists to NASA facilities with an invitation to paint whatever interested them. The result was an extraordinary collection of works of art proving, as one observer noted, "that America produced not only scientists and engineers capable of shaping the destiny of our age, but also artists worthy to keep them company." Transferred to the National Air and Space Museum in 1975, the NASA art collection remains one of the most important elements of what has become perhaps the world's finest collection of aerospace themed art.

The spring of 1962 was a busy time for the men and women of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. On February 20, John H. Glenn became the first American to orbit the earth. For the first time since the launch of Sputnik 1 on October 4, 1957, the U.S. was positioned to match and exceed Soviet achievements in space. NASA was an agency with a mission -- to meet President John F. Kennedy's challenge of sending human beings to the moon and returning them safely to earth by the end of the decade. Within a year, three more Mercury astronauts would fly into orbit. Plans were falling into place for a follow-on series of two-man Gemini missions that would set the stage for the Apollo voyages to the moon.

In early March 1962, artist Bruce Stevenson brought his large portrait of Alan Shepard, the first American to fly in space, to NASA headquarters.(1) James E. Webb, the administrator of NASA, assumed that the artist was interested in painting a similar portrait of all seven of the Mercury astronauts. Instead, Webb voiced his preference for a group portrait that would emphasize "…the team effort and the togetherness that has characterized the first group of astronauts to be trained by this nation." More important, the episode convinced the administrator that "…we should consider in a deliberate way just what NASA should do in the field of fine arts to commemorate the …historic events" of the American space program.(2)

In addition to portraits, Webb wanted to encourage artists to capture the excitement and deeper meaning of space flight. He imagined "a nighttime scene showing the great amount of activity involved in the preparation of and countdown for launching," as well as paintings that portrayed activities in space. "The important thing," he concluded, "is to develop a policy on how we intend to treat this matter now and in the next several years and then to get down to the specifics of how we intend to implement this policy…." The first step, he suggested, was to consult with experts in the field, including the director of the National Gallery of Art, and the members of the Fine Arts Commission, the arbiters of architectural and artistic taste who passed judgment on the appearance of official buildings and monuments in the nation's capital.

Webb's memo of March 16, 1962 was the birth certificate of the NASA art program. Shelby Thompson, the director of the agency's Office of Educational Programs and Services, assigned James Dean, a young artist working as a special assistant in his office, to the project. On June 19, 1962 Thompson met with the Fine Arts Commission, requesting advice as to how "…NASA should develop a basis for use of paintings and sculptures to depict significant historical events and other activities in our program."(3)

David E. Finley, the chairman and former director of the National Gallery of Art, applauded the idea, and suggested that the agency should study the experience of the U.S. Air Force, which had amassed some 800 paintings since establishing an art program in 1954. He also introduced Thompson to Hereward Lester Cooke, curator of paintings at the National Gallery of Art.

An imposing bear of a man standing over six feet tall, Lester Cooke was a graduate of Yale and Oxford, with a Princeton PhD. The son of a physics professor and a veteran of the U.S. Army Air Forces, he was both fascinated by science and felt a personal connection to flight. On a professional level, Cooke had directed American participation in international art competitions and produced articles and illustrations for the National Geographic Magazine. He jumped at the chance to advise NASA on its art program.

While initially cautious with regard to the time the project might require of one of his chief curators, John Walker, director of the National Gallery, quickly became one of the most vocal supporters of the NASA art initiative. Certain that "the present space exploration effort by the United States will probably rank among the more important events in the history of mankind," Walker believed that "every possible method of documentation …be used." Artists should be expected "…not only to record the physical appearance of the strange new world which space technology is creating, but to edit, select and probe for the inner meaning and emotional impact of events which may change the destiny of our race." He urged quick action so that "the full flavor of the achievement …not be lost," and hoped that "the past held captive" in any paintings resulting from the effort "will prove to future generations that America produced not only scientists and engineers capable of shaping the destiny of our age, but also artists worthy to keep them company."(4)

Gordon Cooper, the last Mercury astronaut to fly, was scheduled to ride an Atlas rocket into orbit on May 15, 1963. That event would provide the ideal occasion for a test run of the plan Cooke and Dean evolved to launch the art program. In mid-February, Cooke provided Thompson with a list of the artists who should be invited to travel to Cape Canaveral to record their impressions of the event. Andrew Wyeth, whom the curator identified as "the top artist in the U.S. today," headed the list. When the time came, however, Andrew Wyeth did not go to the Cape for the Cooper launch, but his son Jamie would participate in the program during the Gemini and Apollo years.

The list of invited artists also included Peter Hurd, Andrew Wyeth's brother-in-law, who had served as a wartime artist with the Army Air Force; George Weymouth, whom Wyeth regarded as "the best of his pupils"; and John McCoy, another Wyeth associate. Cooke regarded the next man on the list, Robert McCall, who had been running the Air Force art program, as "America's top aero-space illustrator. Paul Calle and Robert Shore had both painted for the Air Force program. Mitchell Jamieson, who had run a unit of the Navy art program during WW II, rounded out the program. Alfred Blaustein was the only artist to turn down the invitation.

The procedures that would remain in place for more than a decade were given a trial run in the spring of 1963. The artists received an $800 commission, which had to cover any expenses incurred while visiting a NASA facility where they could paint whatever interested them. In return, they would present their finished pieces, and all of their sketches, to the space agency. The experiment was a success, and what might have been a one-time effort to dispatch artists to witness and record the Gordon Cooper flight provided the basis for an on-going, if small-scale, program. By the end of 1970, Jim Dean and Lester Cooke had dispatched 38 artists to Mercury, Gemini and Apollo launches and to other NASA facilities.

The art program became everything that Jim Webb had hoped it would be. NASA artists produced stunning works of art that documented the agency's step-by-step progress on the way to the moon. The early fruits of the program were presented in a lavishly illustrated book, Eyewitness to Space (New York: Abrams, 1971). Works from the collection illustrated NASA publications and were the basis for educational film strips aimed at school children. In 1965 and again in 1969 the National Gallery of Art mounted two major exhibitions of work from the NASA collection. The USIA sent a selection of NASA paintings overseas, while the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service created two exhibitions of NASA art that toured the nation.

"Since we …began," Dean noted in a reflection on the tenth anniversary of the program, the art initiative had resulted in a long string of positive "press interviews and reports, congressional inquiries, columns in the Congressional Record, [and] White House reports." The NASA effort, he continued, had directly inspired other government art programs. "The Department of the Interior (at least two programs), the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of the Army and even the Veterans Administration have, or are starting, art programs." While he could not take all of the credit, Dean insisted that "our success has encouraged other agencies to get involved and they have succeeded, too."(5)

For all of that, he noted, it was still necessary to "defend" the role of art in the space agency. Dean, with the assistance of Lester Cooke, had been a one-man show, handling the complex logistics of the program, receiving and cataloguing works of art, hanging them himself in museums or on office walls, and struggling to find adequate storage space. In January 1976, a NASA supervisor went so far as to comment that: "Mr. Dean is far too valuable in other areas to spend his time on the relatively menial …jobs he is often burdened with in connection with the art program."(6) Dean placed a much higher value on the art collection, and immediately recommended that NASA officials either devote additional resources to the program, or get out of the art business and turn the existing collection over the National Air and Space Museum, "where it can be properly cared for."(7)

In January 1974 a new building for the National Air and Space Museum (NASM) was taking shape right across the street from NASA headquarters. Discussions regarding areas of cooperation were already underway between NASA officials and museum director Michael Collins, who had flown to the moon as a member of the Apollo 11 crew. Before the end of the year, the space agency had transferred its art collection to the NASM. Mike Collins succeeded in luring Jim Dean to the museum, as well.

The museum already maintained a small art collection, including portraits of aerospace heroes, an assortment of 18th and 19th century prints illustrating the early history of the balloon, an eclectic assortment of works portraying aspects of the history of aviation and a few recent prizes, including several Norman Rockwell paintings of NASA activity. With the acquisition of the NASA art, the museum was in possession of one of the world's great collections of art exploring aerospace themes. Jim Dean would continue to build the NASM collection as the museum's first curator of art. Following his retirement in 1980, other curators would follow in his footsteps, continuing to strengthen the role of art at the NASM. Over three decades after its arrival, however, the NASA art accession of 2,091 works still constitutes almost half of the NASM art collection.

(1) Stevenson's portrait is now in the collection of the National Air and Space Museum (1981-627)

(2) James E. Webb to Hiden Cox, March 16, 1962, memorandum in the NASA art historical collection, Aeronautics Division, National air and Space Museum. Webb's preference for a group portrait of the astronauts was apparently not heeded. In the end, Stevenson painted an individual portrait of John Glenn, which is also in the NASM collection (1963-398).

(3) Shelby Thompson, memorandum for the record, July 6, 1962, NASA art historical collection, NASA, Aeronautics Division.

(4) John Walker draft of a talk, March 5, 1965, copy in NASA Art historical collection, NASM Aeronautics Division.

(5) James Dean, memorandum for the record, August 6, 1973, NASA art history collection, NASM Aeronautics Division.

(6) Director of Planning and Media Development to Assistant Administrator for Public Affairs, January 24, 1974, NASA art history collection, NASM Aeronautics Division.

(7) James Dean to the Assistant Administrator for Public Affairs, January 24, 1974, copy in NASA Art history Collection, Aeronautics Division, NASM.

Tom D. Crouch

Senior Curator, Aeronautics

National Air and Space Museum

Smithsonian Institution

July 26, 2007

Simulated Recovery of Astronauts

National Air and Space Museum
Simulated recovery of astronauts, July 16. A view from high showing two helicpoters and small boats going towards the CM boilerplate which is in the upper center; Ink drawing on blue paper that has been grayed by sprayed ink. The waves of the ocean help to visually unify the drawing.

In March 1962, James Webb, Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, suggested that artists be enlisted to document the historic effort to send the first human beings to the moon. John Walker, director of the National Gallery of Art, was among those who applauded the idea, urging that artists be encouraged "…not only to record the physical appearance of the strange new world which space technology is creating, but to edit, select and probe for the inner meaning and emotional impact of events which may change the destiny of our race."

Working together, James Dean, a young artist employed by the NASA Public Affairs office, and Dr. H. Lester Cooke, curator of paintings at the National Gallery of Art, created a program that dispatched artists to NASA facilities with an invitation to paint whatever interested them. The result was an extraordinary collection of works of art proving, as one observer noted, "that America produced not only scientists and engineers capable of shaping the destiny of our age, but also artists worthy to keep them company." Transferred to the National Air and Space Museum in 1975, the NASA art collection remains one of the most important elements of what has become perhaps the world's finest collection of aerospace themed art.

The spring of 1962 was a busy time for the men and women of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. On February 20, John H. Glenn became the first American to orbit the earth. For the first time since the launch of Sputnik 1 on October 4, 1957, the U.S. was positioned to match and exceed Soviet achievements in space. NASA was an agency with a mission -- to meet President John F. Kennedy's challenge of sending human beings to the moon and returning them safely to earth by the end of the decade. Within a year, three more Mercury astronauts would fly into orbit. Plans were falling into place for a follow-on series of two-man Gemini missions that would set the stage for the Apollo voyages to the moon.

In early March 1962, artist Bruce Stevenson brought his large portrait of Alan Shepard, the first American to fly in space, to NASA headquarters.(1) James E. Webb, the administrator of NASA, assumed that the artist was interested in painting a similar portrait of all seven of the Mercury astronauts. Instead, Webb voiced his preference for a group portrait that would emphasize "…the team effort and the togetherness that has characterized the first group of astronauts to be trained by this nation." More important, the episode convinced the administrator that "…we should consider in a deliberate way just what NASA should do in the field of fine arts to commemorate the …historic events" of the American space program.(2)

In addition to portraits, Webb wanted to encourage artists to capture the excitement and deeper meaning of space flight. He imagined "a nighttime scene showing the great amount of activity involved in the preparation of and countdown for launching," as well as paintings that portrayed activities in space. "The important thing," he concluded, "is to develop a policy on how we intend to treat this matter now and in the next several years and then to get down to the specifics of how we intend to implement this policy…." The first step, he suggested, was to consult with experts in the field, including the director of the National Gallery of Art, and the members of the Fine Arts Commission, the arbiters of architectural and artistic taste who passed judgment on the appearance of official buildings and monuments in the nation's capital.

Webb's memo of March 16, 1962 was the birth certificate of the NASA art program. Shelby Thompson, the director of the agency's Office of Educational Programs and Services, assigned James Dean, a young artist working as a special assistant in his office, to the project. On June 19, 1962 Thompson met with the Fine Arts Commission, requesting advice as to how "…NASA should develop a basis for use of paintings and sculptures to depict significant historical events and other activities in our program."(3)

David E. Finley, the chairman and former director of the National Gallery of Art, applauded the idea, and suggested that the agency should study the experience of the U.S. Air Force, which had amassed some 800 paintings since establishing an art program in 1954. He also introduced Thompson to Hereward Lester Cooke, curator of paintings at the National Gallery of Art.

An imposing bear of a man standing over six feet tall, Lester Cooke was a graduate of Yale and Oxford, with a Princeton PhD. The son of a physics professor and a veteran of the U.S. Army Air Forces, he was both fascinated by science and felt a personal connection to flight. On a professional level, Cooke had directed American participation in international art competitions and produced articles and illustrations for the National Geographic Magazine. He jumped at the chance to advise NASA on its art program.

While initially cautious with regard to the time the project might require of one of his chief curators, John Walker, director of the National Gallery, quickly became one of the most vocal supporters of the NASA art initiative. Certain that "the present space exploration effort by the United States will probably rank among the more important events in the history of mankind," Walker believed that "every possible method of documentation …be used." Artists should be expected "…not only to record the physical appearance of the strange new world which space technology is creating, but to edit, select and probe for the inner meaning and emotional impact of events which may change the destiny of our race." He urged quick action so that "the full flavor of the achievement …not be lost," and hoped that "the past held captive" in any paintings resulting from the effort "will prove to future generations that America produced not only scientists and engineers capable of shaping the destiny of our age, but also artists worthy to keep them company."(4)

Gordon Cooper, the last Mercury astronaut to fly, was scheduled to ride an Atlas rocket into orbit on May 15, 1963. That event would provide the ideal occasion for a test run of the plan Cooke and Dean evolved to launch the art program. In mid-February, Cooke provided Thompson with a list of the artists who should be invited to travel to Cape Canaveral to record their impressions of the event. Andrew Wyeth, whom the curator identified as "the top artist in the U.S. today," headed the list. When the time came, however, Andrew Wyeth did not go to the Cape for the Cooper launch, but his son Jamie would participate in the program during the Gemini and Apollo years.

The list of invited artists also included Peter Hurd, Andrew Wyeth's brother-in-law, who had served as a wartime artist with the Army Air Force; George Weymouth, whom Wyeth regarded as "the best of his pupils"; and John McCoy, another Wyeth associate. Cooke regarded the next man on the list, Robert McCall, who had been running the Air Force art program, as "America's top aero-space illustrator. Paul Calle and Robert Shore had both painted for the Air Force program. Mitchell Jamieson, who had run a unit of the Navy art program during WW II, rounded out the program. Alfred Blaustein was the only artist to turn down the invitation.

The procedures that would remain in place for more than a decade were given a trial run in the spring of 1963. The artists received an $800 commission, which had to cover any expenses incurred while visiting a NASA facility where they could paint whatever interested them. In return, they would present their finished pieces, and all of their sketches, to the space agency. The experiment was a success, and what might have been a one-time effort to dispatch artists to witness and record the Gordon Cooper flight provided the basis for an on-going, if small-scale, program. By the end of 1970, Jim Dean and Lester Cooke had dispatched 38 artists to Mercury, Gemini and Apollo launches and to other NASA facilities.

The art program became everything that Jim Webb had hoped it would be. NASA artists produced stunning works of art that documented the agency's step-by-step progress on the way to the moon. The early fruits of the program were presented in a lavishly illustrated book, Eyewitness to Space (New York: Abrams, 1971). Works from the collection illustrated NASA publications and were the basis for educational film strips aimed at school children. In 1965 and again in 1969 the National Gallery of Art mounted two major exhibitions of work from the NASA collection. The USIA sent a selection of NASA paintings overseas, while the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service created two exhibitions of NASA art that toured the nation.

"Since we …began," Dean noted in a reflection on the tenth anniversary of the program, the art initiative had resulted in a long string of positive "press interviews and reports, congressional inquiries, columns in the Congressional Record, [and] White House reports." The NASA effort, he continued, had directly inspired other government art programs. "The Department of the Interior (at least two programs), the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of the Army and even the Veterans Administration have, or are starting, art programs." While he could not take all of the credit, Dean insisted that "our success has encouraged other agencies to get involved and they have succeeded, too."(5)

For all of that, he noted, it was still necessary to "defend" the role of art in the space agency. Dean, with the assistance of Lester Cooke, had been a one-man show, handling the complex logistics of the program, receiving and cataloguing works of art, hanging them himself in museums or on office walls, and struggling to find adequate storage space. In January 1976, a NASA supervisor went so far as to comment that: "Mr. Dean is far too valuable in other areas to spend his time on the relatively menial …jobs he is often burdened with in connection with the art program."(6) Dean placed a much higher value on the art collection, and immediately recommended that NASA officials either devote additional resources to the program, or get out of the art business and turn the existing collection over the National Air and Space Museum, "where it can be properly cared for."(7)

In January 1974 a new building for the National Air and Space Museum (NASM) was taking shape right across the street from NASA headquarters. Discussions regarding areas of cooperation were already underway between NASA officials and museum director Michael Collins, who had flown to the moon as a member of the Apollo 11 crew. Before the end of the year, the space agency had transferred its art collection to the NASM. Mike Collins succeeded in luring Jim Dean to the museum, as well.

The museum already maintained a small art collection, including portraits of aerospace heroes, an assortment of 18th and 19th century prints illustrating the early history of the balloon, an eclectic assortment of works portraying aspects of the history of aviation and a few recent prizes, including several Norman Rockwell paintings of NASA activity. With the acquisition of the NASA art, the museum was in possession of one of the world's great collections of art exploring aerospace themes. Jim Dean would continue to build the NASM collection as the museum's first curator of art. Following his retirement in 1980, other curators would follow in his footsteps, continuing to strengthen the role of art at the NASM. Over three decades after its arrival, however, the NASA art accession of 2,091 works still constitutes almost half of the NASM art collection.

(1) Stevenson's portrait is now in the collection of the National Air and Space Museum (1981-627)

(2) James E. Webb to Hiden Cox, March 16, 1962, memorandum in the NASA art historical collection, Aeronautics Division, National air and Space Museum. Webb's preference for a group portrait of the astronauts was apparently not heeded. In the end, Stevenson painted an individual portrait of John Glenn, which is also in the NASM collection (1963-398).

(3) Shelby Thompson, memorandum for the record, July 6, 1962, NASA art historical collection, NASA, Aeronautics Division.

(4) John Walker draft of a talk, March 5, 1965, copy in NASA Art historical collection, NASM Aeronautics Division.

(5) James Dean, memorandum for the record, August 6, 1973, NASA art history collection, NASM Aeronautics Division.

(6) Director of Planning and Media Development to Assistant Administrator for Public Affairs, January 24, 1974, NASA art history collection, NASM Aeronautics Division.

(7) James Dean to the Assistant Administrator for Public Affairs, January 24, 1974, copy in NASA Art history Collection, Aeronautics Division, NASM.

Tom D. Crouch

Senior Curator, Aeronautics

National Air and Space Museum

Smithsonian Institution

July 26, 2007

Challenger Astronauts Memorial Plaque, NASM

Smithsonian Archives - History Div
Featured in TORCH, March 1986

The unveiling of a memorial plaque dedicated to the Space Shuttle Challenger astronauts, (l-r): Senator Jake Garn, Secretary of Education William Bennett, National Air and Space Museum Director Walter J. Boyne, and Senator John Glenn.

Shuttle Astronauts Active in 1994

National Air and Space Museum
Offset Photolithograph with class photos of shuttle astronauts active in 1994; 5 views of shuttle operations-mmu suited astronaut performing eva; shuttle; reparing shuttle; shuttle in flight; shuttle launch.

Fly Now: The National Air and Space Museum Poster Collection

Throughout their history, posters have been a significant means of mass communication, often with striking visual effect. Wendy Wick Reaves, the Smithsonian Portrait Gallery Curator of Prints and Drawings, comments that "sometimes a pictorial poster is a decorative masterpiece-something I can't walk by without a jolt of aesthetic pleasure. Another might strike me as extremely clever advertising … But collectively, these 'pictures of persuasion,' as we might call them, offer a wealth of art, history, design, and popular culture for us to understand. The poster is a familiar part of our world, and we intuitively understand its role as propaganda, promotion, announcement, or advertisement."

Reaves' observations are especially relevant for the impressive array of aviation posters in the National Air and Space Museum's 1300+ artifact collection. Quite possibly the largest publicly-held collection of its kind in the United States, the National Air and Space Museum's posters focus primarily on advertising for aviation-related products and activities. Among other areas, the collection includes 19th-century ballooning exhibition posters, early 20th-century airplane exhibition and meet posters, and twentieth-century airline advertisements.

The posters in the collection represent printing technologies that include original lithography, silkscreen, photolithography, and computer-generated imagery. The collection is significant both for its aesthetic value and because it is a unique representation of the cultural, commercial and military history of aviation. The collection represents an intense interest in flight, both public and private, during a significant period of its technological and social development.

Copyright Disclosure for Orphaned Works

Whenever possible, the museum provides factual information about copyright owners and related matters in its records and other texts related to the collections. For many of the images in this collection, some of which were created for or by corporate entities that no longer exist, the museum does not own any copyrights. Therefore, it generally does not grant or deny permission to copy, distribute or otherwise use material in this collection. If identified, permission and possible fees may be required from the copyright owner independently of the museum. It is the user's obligation to determine and satisfy copyright or other use restrictions when copying, distributing or otherwise using materials found in the museum's collections. Transmission or reproduction of protected materials beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Users must make their own assessments of rights in light of their intended use.

If you have any more information about an item you've seen in the Fly Now: The National Air and Space Museum Poster Collection, or if you are a copyright owner and believe we have not properly attributed your work to you or have used it without permission, we want to hear from you. Please contact pisanod@si.edu with your contact information and a link to the relevant content.

View more information about the Smithsonian's general copyright policies at http://www.si.edu/termsofuse

Apollo 11 Astronauts at Press Conference

Smithsonian Archives - History Div
Featured in TORCH, September 1974

From left to right: Apollo 11 Astronauts, Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, and Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin at a press conference in the Carmichael Auditorium of the National Museum of History and Technology, now the National Museum of American History, on July 20, 1974, marking the fifth anniversary observance of the Apollo 11 mission.

How NASA Censored Dirty-Mouthed Astronauts

Smithsonian Magazine

During the early days of the space race the public relations handlers at NASA had an image to uphold. America's astronauts were the new face of a nation: they were the bold, brave explorers of the beyond. But this image didn't always align with the more rough-and-tumble types who got the job.

Barring a couple of scientists, almost all of Americas early astronauts had moved over from the military. Many having been experimental aircraft test pilots—a job not exactly known for its dependence on decorum. As space history writer Amy Shira Teitel notes, some astronauts had trouble maintaining family-friendly language, and NASA went to sometimes great lengths to keep that fact under wraps.

In some cases, as Teitel covers in her Vintage Space video series, sometimes this censorship amounted to little more than scrubbing down transcripts—replacing “farts” with “gas” and cutting a few f-bombs. (Caution: the video contains cussing.)

In other cases, however, NASA took great pains to clean up astronauts' language. A few years ago Teitel wrote about the space agency's trick to harness one unnamed astronaut's filthy mouth:

One [astronaut] in particular had the unfortunate habit of filling space when his mind wandered with profanities. This posed a problem for NASA - with the world watching astronauts walking around the lunar surface, how could the organization be sure the his transmissions from the Moon would be family-friendly?

In preparing for his mission, NASA had the astronaut hypnotized. Rather than curse, a psychiatrist put the idea in his head that he would rather hum when his mind wandered. The hypnotized astronaut is rarely named, but only one man can be heard humming as he skipps across the lunar surface. Transmissions from Commander Pete Conrad are punctuated with "dum de dum dum dum" and "dum do do do, do do" making him the likliest candidate.

Even today astronauts maintain a largely squeaky clean image (best personified, perhaps, by former Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield's endearingly non-threatening mustache). But just as before, what we see on the surface isn't all there is—the inner lives of astronauts in orbit are filled with frustrations and annoyances, and, probably, a few interlaced swears.

Meet Astronauts Terry Virts & Samantha Cristoferetti

National Air and Space Museum
NASA astronaut Terry Virts and European Space Agency astronaut Samantha Cristoferetti talk about their return to Earth on June 2015 after 199 days aboard the International Space Station. This program is made possible through the generous support of Boeing.

What Do Astronauts Eat on Thanksgiving?

Smithsonian Magazine

The International Space Station isn’t exactly known for being festive. It's filled with florescent light, cramped with equipment and rife with dust. Astronaut Scott Kelley even described faint traces of "antiseptic" and "garbage" smells on board—not exactly the perfect place for a holiday celebration. But that doesn’t mean that astronauts won’t enjoy a Thanksgiving dinner this year. As ABC Radio reports, they’ll likely chow down on holiday foods, such as sliced turkey, candied yams and apricot cobbler on Turkey Day.

Space food isn’t cooked on the ISS. Rather, it’s prepped on Earth in a lab on the campus of Texas A&M. The school is home to the Space Food Research Facility, which has been cooking for astronauts on the space station since 2007. The facility was put in place due to limited availability of facilities that can produce food products that are thermostabilized, or preserved with heat and pressure. Unlike the freeze-dried foods of yore, thermostabilized foods don’t need to be rehydrated before consumption.

Astronauts on the ISS often eat food in special tortillas produced by Taco Bell (a perfect example: Chris Hadfield’s peanut butter and honey “sandwich”). But in reality they have a relatively large selection of food to choose from.

As Amanda Brandt writes for The Eagle, astronauts have a wide repertoire of food options. They can select from 63 thermostabilized entrees and desserts (chocolate pudding cake is a popular dish) along with freeze-dried, dried, and ready-to-eat foods. Astronauts taste everything before they head to space, then make their selections to bring up with them. Astronauts also get occasional food deliveries in space when resupply missions head up to the ISS. They even get the occasional savory surprise, as when Pizza Hut delivered pizza to space in 2001.

But Thanksgiving isn’t just any meal. Bonnie Dunbar, a retired NASA astronaut, told ABC Radio that this year’s Thanksgiving selections taste just like the real thing. When sampling the dishes, she said, she was impressed not only by their taste but by the fact that the food is so much better than when she was in space.

Want a taste of space this Thanksgiving? Last year, NASA shared a recipe from its Food Systems Laboratory for “Out of This World Cornbread.” Don’t worry—it has no freeze-dried ingredients. Rather, it relies on delectable components like chicken broth and spices to impart a holiday flavor to the dressing. Just put in a plastic package, sniff some antiseptic and garbage, and work on becoming weightless for a Spacegiving celebration you won't soon forget.

Why the ESA’s Astronauts Train Underground

Smithsonian Magazine

Prospective astronauts have to undergo a battery of physical and psychological tests and survival training before they’re approved to go into space. And since 2012, the European Space Agency has added another layer to its astronaut training—a two-week crash course in speleology it calls CAVES (Cooperative Adventure for Valuing and Exercising human behaviour and performance Skills).

At first, it might seem like caves aren’t a great place to simulate space. But it turns out that the astronauts’ trip to Italy’s Sa Grutta caves is a great way to acclimate them to the complex operations of the International Space Station. In a recent blog post, researcher Raffaela Franco describes how the agency translates space ops underground.

Franco explains that caves present similarities to space flight, giving would-be astronauts a chance to communicate with their crew and control centers in ways that mimic the protocols they’d use in space. “Offering familiar protocols to astronauts could result in quicker adaptation to the new environment” says Franco, who points out that the team uses the same procedures underground as they would on the ISS.

But there’s a big difference between caves and a station hundreds of miles above ground—lack of infrastructure. The ESA’s 2014 CAVES course included far more rudimentary communications tools than the ones astronauts really use in space. For example, notes Franco, the team had to use USB sticks to transfer data rather than almost-real-time comm links. And they only had two ways to communicate with each other and their home base: a telephone cable and a wireless underground radio.

Despite these challenges, the team learned a valuable lesson during their time underground—though it’s nice to have multiple high-tech options for communication while isolated from Earth, it’s not actually necessary. In fact, says Franco, the astronauts got by without constant real-time data as long as they communicated using structures similar to the ones they’d use in space. They also learned to love good, old-fashioned paper—a lesson that will better equip the ESA for glitches and crises in the actual space station.

The Training Regimen of NASA's First Astronauts

Smithsonian Channel
The first class of NASA astronauts, dubbed the ‘Mercury 7,’ were put through a series of rigorous tests to prepare them for space. From heat chambers to to simulated weightlessness. From the Series: Apollo's Moon Shot: Rocket Fever https://bit.ly/2ELt0XF

An Evening With Two Mercury Astronauts

National Air and Space Museum
The 2011 John H. Glenn lecture featured a moderated conversation with two of NASA's original Mercury astronauts: John Glenn and Scott Carpenter. Fifty years after the first human spaceflights, they shared stories about their selection as astronauts, the first human spaceflights, and their careers in and out of spaceflight. This lecture was presented in the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum's Lockheed Martin IMAX(r) Theater on June 23, 2011.

Astronauts Have Some Weird Pre-Launch Traditions

Smithsonian Magazine

The week before Yuri Gagarin became the first man to orbit the earth, he planted a tree. Two days before he boarded the Vostok he got a haircut. The night before his launch, Gagarin watched a movie. Halfway to the launchpad, he realized he needed to pee, and stepped out of the bus to urinate on the back right tire. Ever since, every space traveler to fly from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan has followed suit, right down to taking a bathroom break on the bus.

Explorers have always had all sorts of rituals and superstitions to give them comfort before a long and dangerous voyage. The same goes for astronauts, writes Ella Morton for Atlas Obscura. Just as sailors take cats along with them for good luck or refrain from whistling to keep the winds from getting too strong, astronauts have their own traditions and rituals to soothe their nerves before blastoff.

“People become very comforted in doing the same routine before launch," former NASA astronaut Paul Lockhart tells Morton. "And sometimes that has to happen two or three times for a single mission, because your launch could be delayed if there was weather or if a system failed."

For American astronauts launching from the Kennedy Space Center, Morton writes, the leadup to the launch starts with a meal of steak, eggs and cake, no matter when takeoff is scheduled. Just before the crew boards the spacecraft, they sit down for a last-minute poker game that has to continue until the commander plays the worst hand, writes Tanya Lewis for Wired.

Out on the launchpad, there’s a whole other set of traditions for the engineers. It’s considered bad luck for the crew to see their ship wheeled out of the hangar, so they’re kept away from the staging area until the spacecraft is ready for takeoff. At Baikonur, the Soyuz spacecraft are rolled out on rails which observers place coins on to be flattened, reports Richard Hollingham for the BBC. It’s also standard for the crew to bring a stuffed animal along for the ride, both for good luck and to let them know when they’ve reached zero gravity: that’s when the fuzzy toy will start floating.

Not every tradition dates back to the 1960s: since a cosmonaut requested it in 1994, each spacecraft leaving Baikonur is blessed by an Orthodox priest. Before every mission, NASA engineers design a new poster featuring the crew modeled after a favorite sci-fi movie. And recently, some astronauts have even begun taking a towel along with them for good luck (because, of course, it’s the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have). Just remember: don’t panic.

Astronauts Discuss Looking at Earth from Above

Smithsonian Channel
If you're traveling on board a space shuttle, you'll have no shortage of picturesque views; as the shuttle orbits around earth, the sun rises and sets 16 times a day! From: SPACE SHUTTLE: FINAL COUNTDOWN http://bit.ly/1rkDXBX

Student Scientists Connect with ISS Astronauts

National Air and Space Museum
As part of International Education Week, students had the opportunity to speak with NASA astronauts Suni Williams and Kevin Ford onboard the International Space Station about living and working in space. All participating students were involved in the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP), an on-orbit educational research opportunity that allows students to design and send experiments to the space station. This program was recorded on November 15, 2012 at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC.
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