Military Origins Of The Space Race

This image shows American rockets, built after World War II and used both for military and civilian endeavors. After World War II, the rocket foreshadowed a new style of warfare in which nuclear bombs could be delivered quickly across the world. War might begin--and end--suddenly, decisively, without warning. As the Space Race began, the United States and the Soviet Union were building rockets to use as long-range weapons. The United States initially favored bombers, but the Soviets preferred missiles and thus took an early lead in rocket technology.

Location:
Independence Ave at 6th Street, SW Washington,District of Columbia 20560
Identifier:
2004-60151
Institution:
Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum

1903 Wright Flyer

Date:
1903
Creator:
Wilbur Wright, (1867-1912), Orville Wright, (1871-1948)

The Wright brothers inaugurated the aerial age with the world's first successful flights of a powered heavier-than-air flying machine. The Wright Flyer was the product of a sophisticated four-year program of research and development conducted by Wilbur and Orville Wright beginning in 1899. After building and testing three full-sized gliders, the Wrights' first powered airplane flew at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, on December 17, 1903, making a 12-second flight, traveling 36 m (120 ft), with Orville piloting. The best flight of the day, with Wilbur at the controls, covered 255.6 m (852 ft) in 59 seconds.

Description (physical):

H: 2.8m, W: 12.3m, L: 6.4m, Wt.: 605lbs. Canard biplane with one 12-horsepower Wright horizontal four-cylinder engine driving two pusher propellers via sprocket-and-chain transmission system. No wheels; skids for landing gear. Natural fabric finish; no sealant or paint of any kind. Material: Wood Fabric, Aluminum

Location:
Independence Ave at 6th Street, SW Washington,District of Columbia 20560
Identifier:
A19610048000
Institution:
Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum

Douglas D-558-2

Publisher/Studio:
Douglas Aircraft Co.

Piloted by A. Scott Crossfield, on November 20, 1953, the Douglas D-558-2 Skyrocket became the first aircraft to fly faster than Mach 2, twice the speed of sound. Air-launched from a U.S. Navy Boeing P2B-1S (B-29) the swept-wing, rocket-powered D-558-2 reached Mach 2.005 in a shallow dive at 18,898 meters (62,000 feet).

The D-558 series of aircraft was developed by Douglas under the direction of Edward H. Heinemann for the U.S. Navy to explore transonic and supersonic flight. The National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA, the predecessor to NASA), used this Skyrocket, the second one built, to explore the flight characteristics of swept-wing aircraft. It set several other speed and altitude records before the program ended in 1956.

Description (physical):

White, US Navy, single-seat, rocket-powered supersonic aircraft. Material: Aluminum. H: 3.9m, W: 7.6m, L: 12.8m, Wt: 9421lbs., Top Speed: 2078km/hr.

Location:
Independence Ave at 6th Street, SW Washington,District of Columbia 20560
Identifier:
A19610108000CP11
Institution:
Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum

Lear Jet 23

Publisher/Studio:
Lear Jet Corporation

The first Lear Jets, the Model 23s, were the first products of the original Lear Jet Corporation for the new field of business and personal jet aviation. So significant was the design that for years "Lear Jet" was synonymous with "bizjet." William P. Lear Sr. initiated the Lear Jet's development in 1959. The aircraft drew upon the structural quality of the Swiss AFA P-16 strike-fighter and featured a fuselage that narrowed at each side where the wing and engine nacelles extended outward-a design concept known as area rule-to provide smooth airflow around the engines. Successive Lear Jet models set many speed records. The Lear Jet line is now part of the Bombardier Aerospace family, which includes Challenger and Global Express aircraft. This is the second Lear Jet built and the first production Model 23. Lear Jet used it as a test aircraft.

Description (physical):

This Lear Jet model has twin-engine pioneer business jet developed by William P. Lear; second Learjet, first production model built; two General Electric CJ 610-1 turbojet engines; low-wing, retractable landing gear design. Material: All-metal. H: 3.8m, W: 10.8m, L: 13.2m, Wt: 6150lbs., Top Speed: 903km/hr.

Location:
Independence Ave at 6th Street, SW Washington,District of Columbia 20560
Identifier:
A19780122000CP06
Institution:
Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum

Lockheed Martin/boeing Rq-3a Darkstar

Date:
1996

Lockheed Martin, Boeing, and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) developed the stealthy, low-observable DarkStar to provide sustained reconnaissance information from anywhere within enemy territory, day or night, in all types of weather. Developed concurrently with the nonstealthy RQ-4A Global Hawk, DarkStar could provide near real-time target data and imagery by way of satellite links to its mobile ground station. The first DarkStar prototype flew successfully in March 1996 but crashed during its second flight a month later. More than two years passed before a second prototype took to the air and performed an autonomous takeoff, flight plan, and landing. It made five flights before the program was canceled in January 1999. The DarkStar displayed here was built before the program ended but never performed a flight test. When the Museum acquired it, the inlet and the exhaust had been sealed due to the classified nature of the design.

Description (physical):

This is a high altitude, strategic reconnaissance platform designed with a "stealthy" radar signature. Perhaps the strangest UAV in the collection resembling a flying saucer with long, narrow wings. Overall: 3.5' x 1' x 15' x 69'.

Location:
Independence Ave at 6th Street, SW Washington,District of Columbia 20560
Identifier:
DarkStar 104
Institution:
Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum

Captain Charles Ridgely

Date:
1767
Creator:
John Hesselius

Captain Charles Ridgely (1733-1790) was the builder and first master of Hampton. A ship’s captain in his early career (note the telescope depicted in his hand), he retired from the sea and assumed control of the family iron business in 1763. He also operated a mercantile business in Baltimore Town; owned vast farms and plantations cultivating grain and vegetable crops; bred cattle, pigs, and thoroughbred horses; planted commercial orchards; and operated mills and quarries. Profits from his Northampton ironworks during the Revolutionary War and from confiscated Loyalist properties helped fund the building of  Ridgely’s “house in the forest” beginning in 1783. Captain Ridgely had resided there for little over a year at the time of his death.

Description (physical):

Material: Oil on Canvass. H: 76.2cm, W: 63.5cm.

Location:
535 Hampton Lane Towson,Maryland 21286
Identifier:
HAMP 1144
Institution:
Hampton National Historic Site

Rebecca Dorsey Ridgely

Date:
1767
Creator:
John Hesselius

The wife of Captain Charles Ridgely (1733-1790), builder of Hampton, Rebecca Dorsey Ridgely (1739-1812) was the daughter of Caleb Dorsey of “Belmont,” an Anne Arundel County iron master. The two were married in 1760, the year Capt. Ridgely with his father and brother John established the Northampton Iron Works. This portrait and the one of Capt. Ridgely were painted by the noted American artist John Hesselius, who by 1763 was living in Annapolis and painting many portraits of Maryland’s landed gentry. Although fashionably dressed in luxurious clothing for this portrait, Rebecca later became an ardent convert to Methodism, and was a friend and supporter of the earliest Methodist preacher in America, Robert Strawbridge.

Description (physical):

Material: Oil on Canvass. H: 75cm, W: 63.5cm.

Location:
535 Hampton Lane Towson,Maryland 21286
Identifier:
HAMP1145
Institution:
Hampton National Historic Site

Telescope

Date:
1770
Publisher/Studio:
London: Cox London Day or Night

Inscribed by the maker “Cox London Day or Night,” family tradition suggests that this is the telescope depicted in the portrait of Capt. Charles Ridgely, the Builder of Hampton.

Description (physical):

Material: Wood, Brass, Glass. L: 51cm, Di: 6.2cm.

Location:
535 Hampton Lane Towson,Maryland 21286
Identifier:
HAMP 10000
Institution:
Hampton National Historic Site

Soup Plates

Creator:
John Townsend
Publisher/Studio:
London

These plates bear the cipher “CRR” in florid Rococo script, the combined initials of Charles and Rebecca Ridgely. They are marked on the underside with a dove and lamb and "John" over "Townsend" below in cartouche outline, and stamped "Made in London" and "Super Fine Hard Metal."

Description (physical):

Material: Pewter. H: 3cm, Di: 24.5cm.

Location:
535 Hampton Lane Towson,Maryland 21286
Identifier:
HAMP11468_11469
Institution:
Hampton National Historic Site

Side Chair

Publisher/Studio:
Baltimore, MD

This chair is part of a large set with Ridgely family history that dates from the period of the construction of the house (1783-1790) and thus may have been purchased by Capt. Charles Ridgely, “The Builder” (1733-1790). Chairs from this set and another of very similar design appear in photos from the historic period, used in different  locations throughout the house. The unusual shape of the back, a design feature unique to Maryland made chairs, is referred to today as a “modified shield back.” In the Federal period, it was probably called an urn back, a reference to the design source in the arts of classical antiquity.

Description (physical):

Material: Mahogany. H: 97.5cm, W: 51.4cm, D: 44cm.

Location:
535 Hampton Lane Towson,Maryland 21286
Identifier:
HAMP19963
Institution:
Hampton National Historic Site