space

Ohio in the Space Race

As this time gets closer towards July 20th, 2019, the 50th anniversary of the famous first moon landing, we look at the state of Ohio and it’s contribution to the space race. Not just the people that went into space, but the Ohio products they used and the Ohio locations that helped them are also important. Ohio had a big role in putting Americans in space.

The People:

John Glenn:
We Have talked about first American to orbit the earth before. On Friendship 7 he had issues with the heat shield but survived to fly again. The next flight would have to wait however. Glenn did not travel to space again until 1998 becoming the oldest person to do so and  the second sitting senator. He  and his wife have a museum in New Concord.

Charles A. Bassett:
Basset was from Dayton. He was one of the early astronauts selected to fly on Gemini missions. He was scheduled to fly on Gemini 9, but was killed along Elliott M. See, Jr., who was to fly into space with Basset, when the plane they were flying in crashed.

Jim Lovell:
Jim Lovell was the born in Cleveland. As the an early astronaut he flew into space many times. First on an endurance mission on Gemini 7, then on Gemini 12, after the deaths of Gemini 9’s main crew (Basset and See) moved everyone up. This flight was with Buzz Aldrin, who would later fly with another Famous Ohioan. The next mission Lovell took put him in orbit around the moon. He would not get to land on Apollo 8, but would be scheduled to land on his next mission, Apollo 13. Due to an explosion in an oxygen tank the mission was not able to land on the moon.  He does not have a museum yet.

Neil Armstrong:
As many shows, movies, presentations, and exhibits will tell Neil Armstrong was the first person to step foot on the moon. Did you know he was from Wapakoneta, Ohio? The city even houses a very nice museum dedicated to him.

The Products:

While the men who would fly were growing up through out the state, the products they would need were also so being created. A few of the items produced include:

Russel Colley worked for B.F. Goodrich of Akron. During his time he designed a pressure suit for Willy Post. This suit lead to the creation of the Navy Mark IV pressure suit. This suit was used by John Glenn and all the Mercury Astronauts. The

Marion Power Shovel Company, of Marion, Ohio, known for creating large shovels, created the Crawler-Transporter that carried the Saturn V to the launch platform.

Goodyear Aerospace Corporation was famous for making blimps when NASA asked them to create the heating and cooling systems for the Apollo Vehicles. They were are asked to make the tires for some of the equipment used on the lunar surface.

Airstream created the motor homes that became Mobile Quarantine Facility for the returning Apollo 11, 12, and 14 astronauts.

At the Armstrong Air and Space Museum is a map with many more of the place and companies in Ohio responsible for helping to get Americans on the Moon. The contribution of this great state is long and on going. And this was just before landing on the Moon. The state has gone on to do a lot more after the space race was over. But that is for another day.

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Cincinnati Observatory

3489 Observatory Place, Cincinnati, Ohio 45208

https://www.cincinnatiobservatory.org

We went to the Cincinnati Observatory on a sunny weekday afternoon, probably not the best day to go to an observatory, but we did get a laid back uncrowded personal experience. The Cincinnati Observatory is located on top of the hills of Mt. Lookout in Cincinnati. This Observatory is the oldest, still in use, in the United States. The observatory consists of two buildings. The two buildings house the main 11-inch Merz and Mahler refractor and the 16-inch Alvan Clark and Sons refactor. We visited the main building that house the 16-inch Clark telescope. The building was designed by the famous architect Samuel Hannaford. One can visit this observatory most afternoons during weekdays. These afternoons are reservation free.  There are many special events and astronomy nights on Thursdays and Fridays. These are the nights to look through the telescopes. There are also events on the weekends. Check out their website for these events and to make reservations.

The main building has a rotunda and two levels. The first level is a museum type of room. One can walk around the room at their leisure and look at the astronomy related artifacts. There are also daily tours (small cost) of both buildings. We did not take the tour, but lucked out and had a sort-of  guide tour of the Clark telescope. After finishing on the first floor, one can go to the second floor and look at the telescope. When we visited the friendly and knowledgeable staff gave us a tour of the telescope. Not sure if this is standard practice, but it was much appreciated. 

This museum/observatory does not take long to visit, but is packed with many interesting artifacts. It would be good to visit the telescope during the day, then return for one of the night time viewing. This would be a great place for kids, because it is highly education and just long enough to keep their attention. Kids would probably really enjoy the night time viewings. The place is not hard to find and access or out of the way. One major tip is to visit their website to find out about special events and open hours. A visit to the observatory can easily be added to a visit to another great Cincinnati attraction.

A day or night visit to the Cincinnati observatory is well worth it, even if you have little interest in astronomy or space.

 

The 4th Hangar of The National Museum of the United States Air Force Museum

1100 Spaatz St,
Dayton, OH 45431

The National Museum of the United States Air Force is large. The NMUSAF is old. The NMUSAF is continually changing and growing trying to keep up with the technology of the Air Force.  On June 8th 2016 the museum added a fourth hangar.

The new hangar houses all of the presidential and research and development aircraft that had once been further on base. To get to them previously one had to sign up to take a guided tour. The tours were hourly and filled up fast. Once in the hangars time was limited before the buses had to return and pick up more visitors. The new hangar solves all these problems and gives the museum room to expand the collection even more.

The first thing one will notice when entering the new hangar is p06-16-16_16-191the Allan and Malcolm Lockheed and Glenn Martin Space Gallery. It is hard to miss the full size Space Shuttle Crew Compartment Trainer. While the museum was denied a real shuttle, the trainer is a nice alternative. All of the shuttles are set back from view in their respective museums. The trainer is front, center, and has great access for visitors to climb up and take a look inside. Along with the trainer are spacecraft from previous generations of space travel.  A Mercury capsule, a once top secret Gemini B capsule, and the Apollo 15th Command Module. Apollo 15 was an all Air Force member mission. Through out the 4th hangar are displays of object that might seem unrelated to the Air Force but the museum makes sure to point out the connection and explain the wide ranging reach of its branch of the armed forces.  The largest area in the Space Gallery is dedicated to spy satellites and reconnaissance recovery vehicles. The Air Force was responsible for launching cameras into space and recovering the film once the pictures were taken. In an adjoining part of the museum are some of the rockets they used. The sheer size of the cameras and film is incredible. The final section  is experiential crafts used to test the edge of space and how to get there. They segue nicely into the Research and Development Gallery.

When flown without tethers, the Avrocar was unstable and could reach top speed of only 35 mph. (U.S. Air Force photo)

When flown without tethers, the Avrocar was unstable and could reach top speed of only 35 mph. (U.S. Air Force photo)

The Maj. Gen. Albert Boyd and Maj. Gen. Fred Ascani Research and Development Gallery houses aircraft that never made it into full production. These include wacky and impractical like the famous UFO like Avrocar or helicopters powered by jets on the tips of the blades. The gallery is mostly filled with planes that were test vehicles for technology that would later go on to be come a big part of the Air Forces arsenal. The display of early unmanned aerial vehicles like the The Lockheed D-21 and Boeing YQM-94A Compass Cope B to the more modern Boeing X-45A J-UCAS help to explain the rich history of what was once thought of as sci-fi tech, but is now standard in the drone aircraft in the other hangars.

The R&D gallery leads into the The Lt. Gen. William H. Tunner Global Reach Gallery. It tells the story of how the US Air Force has grown to have a reach into all corners of the world. The gallery house aircraft such as the The C-141 “Hanoi Taxi” Starlifter. It was the first aircraft to return P.O.W.’s from the war in Vietnam.

The final and most famous gallery is The William E. Boeing Presidential Gallery. This gallery house what is arguably the most famous air craft in the entire museum. SAM – 26000 was the aircraft that was used by many presidents. It is plane that was used by John F. Kennedy on his trip to Dallas in 1963. Now known by its tail number, it once had the famous call sign Air Force One. So did almost every other plane in the gallery. Almost all of the major planes used to transport presidents from the Sacred Cow to the smaller The C-20B . Quite a few, including SAM – 26000, can be boarded and walked through.

The newest addition to the National Museum of the United States Air Force is large enough to spend half the day in itself. It is worth a visit even if one has seen the museum quite a few times. Do make sure to allow time for it and all of the rest of the galleries in what is the one greatest museums in Ohio, the nation, and the world.

John Glenn: A life well lived

By NASA - http://www.archive.org/details/S64-36156, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=16027448

John Glenn is one of the greatest Ohioans, if not Americans, of all time. Most famously known for being the first American to orbit the earth, he is also a former senator for Ohio, the oldest person ever in space, one of the few sitting congresspersons in space, and at the time of his death the oldest living former Senator.

John Glenn was born on July 18, 1921 in Cambridge Ohio.  He was unable to finish college because he decided to join the military after the attack on Pearl Harbor. First in the Army Air corps, then as a United States Navy aviation cadet, then as a pilot in the Marines. It was in the the Marines he saw action in the Pacific Theater of WWII. Glenn stayed with the Marines until the middle of the Korean war at which time he transfered to the  newly formed United States Air Force.

After the war John Glenn became a test pilot. As a test pilot he flew the first http://grin.hq.nasa.gov/ABSTRACTS/GPN-2000-001027.htmlsupersonic  transcontinental flight. As a test pilot he was involved in the design and testing of spacecraft and simulators. In 1958 John Glenn joined another new organization. This time it was the National Air and Space Administration, also known as NASA.  Glenn was selected as a member of The Mercury 7, and as one of the first astronauts to fly. His first and most famous flight would take place on February 20th, 1962. Aboard the Friendship 7 John Glenn made 3 orbits of the earth. He was the 3rd American in space, but the first to make a full orbit. As he ready to reenter the Earth’s atmosphere a problem with the crafts heat shields was detected. To prevent them from breaking up during reentry the retro rockets used to return Friendship 7 from orbit were kept in place. After the flight the problem was found to not with the shield, but with the system indicator.

After his flight John Glenn was one of the most famous people in the world. New York held a ticker tape parade for him. The world loved him. The problem with this was that he was so famous that NASA would not risk sending him back into space. This combined with the fact that he was already 42 lead him to announce his resignation on January 16, 1964. The next day he entered the race for Democratic Senator from the state of Ohio. Because of a slip and fall at his home he was forced to exit the race. He however was not far from politics over the next few years, remaining close to the Kennedy family. He was at  The Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles when R.F. Kennedy was assassinated.

Finally in 1974 he won the a seat on the US Senate. He would remain a senator for the next 24 years serving Ohio and the nation. As a senator he spent time working for many causes, but is probably best know for his unfortunate role in the Saving and Loan scandals of the 1980’s.

http://spaceflight.nasa.gov/gallery/images/shuttle/sts-95/html/98_06862.htmlWhile senator Glenn started to lobby for NASA to allow him back into space. His reasoning was that it was the perfect opportunity to study the effects of old age in space, and that he was already experienced in spaceflight. NASA finally agreed and made John Glenn a member of STS-95. The launch of STS-95 on October 29,1998 made John Glenn at the age of 77 the oldest person to travel to space. He also became the second sitting senator to do so. The data collected on the mission was then compared to the data that was collected on Friendship 7. Upon his return he received another ticker tape parade, making him one of the last people to receive on, and one of the few to receive two.

On December 8th, 2016 Ohioan, Senator, and Astronaut John Glenn passed away at the age of 95. His final resting place is Arlington Cemetery near all of Americas other great heroes.

Over his life John Glenn did both good and bad. His trying to exclude women in NASA spaceflights in it’s early days, a policy which was already in place with the military pilot requirement, to the savings and loan scandal, showed him not to be perfect. His authoring of the  Nuclear Non-Proliferation Act of 1978, his fights for the great lakes, his push for science, his willingness to risk his life to advance the knowledge of space, and many of his other works show that he was trying to work to make the earth a better place for those that come after him. For this his is one of Ohio’s and America’s greatest.

To learn more about this great man visit his museum in New Concord. The John and Annie Glenn Museum is open May – October (and is free for Ohio History Members.) The Friendship 7 capsule is on display at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC. The Space Shuttle Discovery is on display at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center of the National Air and Space Museum  in Virgina.

Boonshoft Museum of Discovery

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2600 DeWeese Parkway, Dayton, OH 45414

http://www.boonshoftmuseum.org

The Boonshoft Museum of Discovery is a “kids” museum in Dayton. While the museum may be aimed at kids, parents will have fun too. With a planetarium, zoo, play areas, and a tree house there is plenty to see and do.

The lower level of the museum is where the Space Theater, Hall of Universe, and Science Central are. Science Central is a big water table where kids can learn about the force of water and how it shapes our world. Situated around the room is other exhibits on forces in our world. The Space Theater is the large 3d dome theater for the museum. The programs are included in the price of admission and vary greatly through out the day. Check the website to see what is showing when and plan accordingly as the shows do not repeat.

P09-26-15_15-54Through out the museum are around 100 animals. The animals are mostly small mammals, reptiles, and birds. The largest is a huge Burmese Python. The Discovery Zoo, a fully AZA accredited zoo, houses many of the larger animals of the museum. The otters, sloth, and ducks are fun to watch. The best time to go is during the daily otter feeding. The rest of the animals are spread out among the exhibits.

Some of the exhibits on the second floor are aimed more at play than learning. Explorers Crossing is where kids, and adults alike, can explore a court house, a grocery store, a mechanics shop, and more. The areas are sponsored by local businesses, but instead of felling like a commercial, the sponsorship actually helps to enhance the feel of being in a real local shop.

The rest of the upper level is a mix of smaller exhibits aimed more at learning, but still keeping the fun atmosphere. These include a mummydesert, woodlands, an exhibit on waste management, and an African room. The African room contains Nesiur the mummy, a real mummified human, along with other Egyptian artifacts and artifacts and art from around Africa. Smaller kids may not find these areas as fun as Explorer Crossing.

Hidden in the back of the museums second floor are the Science on a Sphere and Treehouse. Science on a Sphere is a large globe that shows a video about our earth. The seamless 360 degree show is a wonder in itself and worth finding. The Treehouse is a real life tree house set out in the woods behind the museum. It is connected to the main museum and is almost like still being inside the museum. Surrounded by bird feeders it is a great place to see not only flying animals, but creatures on the ground below that come to eat the food that falls.

The best time to visit the museum is on weekends when most of the show and hands on activities are available. While adults will have fun they may not learn much from the museum with most of the facts aimed at littler kids. Overall the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery is a great way to learn about the world around us.

PS. Football fans can visit Triangle Park, which is located right behind the museum. It is the site of the first NFL game ever played.

Ohio in Space!


In honor of this the 45th year of the Moon landing, the 52nd year of the Friendship 7 flight, and most importantly the opening of COSI’s new Planetarium, here are some facts about Ohio in space!

First:
John Glenn was the first American to orbit the earth. He rode aboard Friendship 7 on February 20th, 1962.
Neil Armstrong was the first person to step foot on the moon.
Robert F. Overmyer was the pilot of STS-5, the first officially “operational” shuttle mission, and the first use of the space shuttle to launch a communication satellite into orbit.
Michael Landon Gernhardt was the first American to take a spacewalk from the International Space Station.
Kathryn D. Sullivan was the first American women to walk in space.

Records:
Sunita Williams holds 3 current space records, for longest single space flight by a woman, total spacewalks by a woman, and most spacewalk time for a woman.
John Glenn, at 77, is the oldest person to be sent into space.
25 astronauts have left this state to end up in space. The most from any one state in the union.

Fun places to learn more about Ohio in space:
Cosi
National Museum of the United States Air Force
John Glenn Research Center
Great Lakes Science Center

To read more about Ohioans in space:
Ohio in Space infograph
Ohio Astronauts Biographies

Special thanks to John Glenn Research Center Website for the photo, infograph, and Bios
As always if there is anything we missed feel free to “comet” below.