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Motor, Model Rocket, Rocket Development Corp.

National Air and Space Museum
This is an unflown Rocket Development Corporation B4 model rocket motor. The "B4" signifies that the power of the motor is in the second lowest class (out of seven) established by the National Association of Rocketry. The motor is made of pasteboard. The non-explosive propellant has been removed from it. A motor is used only once to power a model rocket.

G. Harry Stine, a pioneer in the field of flying rocket models, donated it to NASM in 1973.

Rocket

National Museum of American History

radiosonde, rocket

National Museum of American History

rocket

National Museum of American History

rocket launcher

National Museum of American History

Rocket Row

Smithsonian Archives - History Div
This photo was taken at some point in or after 1961 when the last two rockets, Polaris A-1and Atlas, were acquired, but before the Polaris A-1 was swapped for the Polaris A-3 in 1967.

"Rocket Row" along the west side of the Arts and Industries Building before the National Air and Space Museum was built. The four missiles on exhibit are: From left to right, the Jupiter C, which launched Explorer I, the first U.S. satellite; the Vanguard; the Polaris A-1, the first U.S. submarine-launched ICBM; and the Atlas, the famed Mercury launch vehicle. Cars are parked in the parking lot and Independence Avenue can be seen in the background.

Rocket

National Air and Space Museum
Rocket. Page from a bound sketchbook. Three people are seen from behind as they watch the rocket launch. The figures are simply drawn, and the rocket and its gantry fill the center of the scene.

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

Motor, Model Rocket, Rocket Supply Co.

National Air and Space Museum
This is an unflown Rocket Supply, Inc. model rocket motor from 1967. It is made of pasteboard and contains non-explosive propellant. A motor is used only once to power a model rocket. G. Harry Stine, a pioneer in the field of flying rocket models, donated this artifact to NASM in 1973.

Motor, Model Rocket, Model Rocket Industries

National Air and Space Museum
This is an unflown Model Rocket Industries A.8-2 model rocket motor. The "A.8-2" signifies that the power of the motor is in the lowest class (out of seven) established by the National Association of Rocketry. It is made of pasteboard and contains non-explosive propellant. A motor is used only once to power a model rocket.

G. Harry Stine, a pioneer in the field of flying rocket models, donated it to NASM in 1973.

Rocket, Flying Model, Lunar Rocket

National Air and Space Museum
This Lunar Rocket toy built by Park Plastics allowed its purchaser to shoot the rocket into the air using water as the propellant. Toys like this demonstrated reactive motion, providing a fun and relatively safe way of learning about the physical principles of rocket flight. For some people, including Microsoft co-founder and SpaceShip One funder Paul Allen, water- and air-propelled rockets like this one were the first step in their childhood experimentation with toy rockets. As Allen has recalled, the limitations of toys like this one, which could only reach 100 feet in the air, led him to experiment with chemical rocket kits and more sophisticated flying rocket models. This model was found in the collection.

Rocket, Sounding, Honeybee

National Air and Space Museum
This is the Honeybee, a very low-cost, low-altitude sounding rocket designed in the late 1960's. It is essentially a large solid-fuel model rocket with a cardboard body, balsa fins and nosecone, and silk parachute. Manufactured by the Rocket Development Corporation, the Honeybee could carry a 0.75 pound payload up to 3,600 feet. The total launch weight of the rocket was 1.4 pounds.

The rocket could be used for low altitude weather studies, rescue purposes to carry lines to persons in distress and other purposes. However, due to its low payload capability, the Honeybee was not commercially successful. The Honeybee was donated to the Smithsonian in 1967 by the Rocket Development Corp.

Rocket, Flying Model , U.S. Rocket

National Air and Space Museum
This is a plastic assembled flying rocket model in its retail package. Also included are a parachute, launch stand, a launch control box and wires to connect it to the model, and three motors. At the end of powered flight, the parachute deploys and the model falls back to Earth, enabling its reuse.

G. Harry Stine, a pioneer in the field of model rockets, donated this artifact to NASM in 1973.

Nozzle, Rocket Motor, Liquid Fuel, American Rocket Society

National Air and Space Museum
This nozzle is from an uncooled rocket motor of the American Rocket Society (ARS). It was damaged during a thirteen-second test on 2 June 1935 at Crestwood, New York, to determine the "heat resisting value of nichrome compared to the aluminum for the nozzle metal." Using liquid oxygen and gasoline, the motor's maximum thrust was 24.5 kg (54 lb) while the average was 16 kg (35 lb). The nozzle stood up "remarkably under the intense heat (c. 2,000 degrees C.)" and the "nichrome nozzles were definitely superior to the aluminum nozzles."

Between November 1932 and September 1934, the ARS attempted four launches with rudimentary rockets, two of which succeeded. Members decided that more could be learned by conducting static tests, which would also be less expensive. Static testing began in 1935 and continued until 1942. This nozzle was a gift of Peter van Dresser, an early member of ARS.

Mandrel, Rocket Manufacturing, Solid Propellant, Rocket Motor

National Air and Space Museum
This is a mandrel around which solid propellants for rocket motors are formed. It was used for this purpose by the Atlantic Research Corporation (ARC). Founded shortly after World War II, ARC became a leading developer and producer of small-scale solid-propellant motors and gas generators for the civilian space and defense markets.

Transferred to NASM from Atlantic Research Corporation.

Rocket Science

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access
Teacher-created lesson in which young students learn of Newton's laws of motion by designing and launching an air-pressure rocket. The rocket is a plastic bottle.

Rocket Motor, ARS No. 4

National Air and Space Museum
This is the American Rocket Society's ARS Rocket Motor No. 4. It was used in the flight of ARS Rocket No. 4 in 1934 at Marine Park, Great Kills, Staten Island, New York. The rocket went up to 382 feet and flew about 600 miles an hour.

The motor used gasoline and liquid oxygen. The ARS intended to fly their ARS No. 5, but there were technical problems which prevented the flight and the ARS decided that more could be learned about rocket motor design and performance by static tests. ARS No. 4 was therfore the Society's last flight rocket. This object was donated to the Smithsonian in 1966 by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

M1 Rocket Launcher

National Museum of American History
Physical Description

M1 rocket launcher, 60 mm, known as a “Bazooka.”

General History

The United States had a growing stockpile of excellent antitank warheads but lacked a suitable delivery system. Colonel Leslie Skinner, a U.S. Army officer at the Ordnance Proving Ground, was an enthusiastic proponent of rockets. He suggested carrying the hollow charge at the tip of a high-speed rocket. He built a rocket to carry a grenade body, then took a modified 60-mm mortar tube and demonstrated the destructive force of his new weapon in front of high-ranking generals. The officers gathered to see the official demonstrations of other weapons were suitably impressed and Skinner's weapon was ordered into production immediately. The new weapon was soon modified for production and a month later, in May 1942, General Electric had built 5,000 ready for combat. The first model was known as the Rocket Launcher M1. The caliber of 60 mm or 2.36 inches was determined by the grenades used as the warhead, which were already in production. The Bazooka got its nickname for its similar shape to the popular 1930s and 1940s radio comedian Bob Burns’s musical instrument, a homemade trombone he called a Bazooka.

Rocket Motor Blank, Liquid Fuel, American Rocket Society

National Air and Space Museum
This rocket motor blank was one of six made for the American Rocket Society (ARS) in 1932 toward building, testing, and flying their first liquid-propellant rockets. It was not used but a similar blank, with lugs for propellant line connections, was used for ARS Rocket No. 1 that produced 60 pounds of thrust.

Of the six blanks, one made with lugs served as the motor for ARS Rockets No. 1 and 2. Another was used for the four nozzle motor for ARS Rocket No. 4. A third blank was fitted with a water jacket but never fired, while two others were used in the production of experimental motors but never finished. This object was donated to the Smithsonian in 1994 by the Thiokol Chemical Corp.

Lunar Rocket

Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
Parallel stripes of rising Saturn 5 rockets in red and orange, with the moon and two images of the Apollo 9 capsule falling to the earth's surface, on a background of deep blue dotted with stars.

Rocket Man

National Museum of the American Indian

The Rocket

Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum

The Rocket

Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum

The Rocket

Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum

Rocket, Flying Model, Flare

National Air and Space Museum
This is an unassembled Flare flying rocket model built by Model Rocket Industries. The model has a pasteboard body, balsa nose and fins, and a plastic parachute. A solid propellant rocket motor propels the model, and then at the end of the vertical flight it forces the release of the parachute. The model is then retrieved and can be used again. Not included in this kit are the motor, the launch controller that is used to ignite the motor, and the launch pad from which the model is launched. G. Harry Stine, an American pioneer in the field of flying rocket and missile models, donated it to the Museum.
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