Tag Archives: Udvar-Hazy


Space Shuttle Discovery OV-103

One of my main reasons for wanting to stop at The Udvar-Hazy Center was to get a glimpse of this bad boy, Space Shuttle Discovery. Although the center had a similar display before Discovery, the Enterprise. The Enterprise was built for NASA as part of the Space Shuttle program to perform atmospheric test flights after being launched from a modified Boeing 747. It was constructed without engines or a functional heat shield and was therefore not capable of spaceflight. The discovery is the real deal and really cool to see up close and personal! I got to the Center right before it opened, hoping to beat the crowds, but I did not, there were tons of kids lined up already, waiting to get in. When the gates opened I made my way back to the shuttle rather quickly and was able to get shots off before the mass of people, mission accomplished.

Over 27 years of service it launched and landed 39 times, gathering more spaceflights than any other spacecraft to date. The shuttle has three main components: the orbiter, a central fuel tank, and two rocket boosters. Nearly 25,000 heat resistant tiles cover the orbiter to protect it from high temperatures on re-entry. Discovery performed both research and ISS assembly missions. It also carried the Hubble Space Telescope into orbit. Discovery was the first operational shuttle to be retired. Discovery was transported to Washington Dulles International Airport on April 17, 2012, and was transferred to the Udvar-Hazy on April 19 where a welcome ceremony was held.

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Skunk Works

The Sunkworks SR-71 Blackbird

This sexy SR-71 Blackbird located in the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly VA. The Space Center is part of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.  The SR-71 was developed as a black project from the Lockheed A-12 reconnaissance aircraft in the 1960s by Lockheed and its Skunk Works division. The SR-71 was designed for flight at over Mach 3 with a flight crew of two in tandem cockpits, with the pilot in the forward cockpit and the reconnaissance systems officer operating the surveillance systems and equipment from the rear cockpit, and directing navigation on the mission flight path.

This Blackbird accrued about 2,800 hours of flight time during 24 years of active service with the U.S. Air Force. On its last flight, March 6, 1990, Lt. Col. Ed Yielding and Lt. Col. Joseph Vida set a speed record by flying from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C., in 1 hour, 4 minutes, and 20 seconds, averaging 2,124 miles per hour. At the flight’s conclusion, they landed at Washington-Dulles International Airport and turned the airplane over to the Smithsonian. I was always enamored with this aircraft and it is always fun to shoot.

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