The Udvar-Hazy Center of the National Air and Space Museum

Thanks very much to C for ferrying me around northern Virginia at the weekend to see a couple of things that had long been on my list: the Udvar-Hazy Center of the National Air and Space Museum, and the battlefield at Manassas/Bull Run.

At the Udvar-Hazy Center, obviously the standout exhibit is the space shuttle Discovery, which flew 39 missions from 1984 to 2011, more than any other spacecraft. It was amazinfg to stand in front of it. It dominates but does not fill the McDonnell Hall, and is well positioned so that you can photograph it from all angles.

For scale, some of the earlier manned capsules – a couple of Mercury backups and the real Gemini 7.

Many more satellites.

And more.

The Mars Rover.

In contrast to the Space Shuttle, it's very difficult to take a picture of Concorde – it is so big!

The Enola Gay has also been preserved:

Cabin of a Goodyear blimp, made in 1934 and in service until very recently.

A German WW2 rocket plane.

I knew it was there but it still gave me a shock of recognition – Willy Ley's 1956 Hugo Award. (Smaller than today's trophies.) 1956 was only the third time the Hugos were awarded. (Willy Ley also won one of the first ones, in 1953.)

Earlier in the day we looked at the museum of the two Battles of Manasses at Henry Hill, 20 km south of Dulles. As with most battlefields, not all that much to see apart from a film about the battles.

This is where Confederate General Thomas J. Jackson acquired his nickname "Stonewall" for standing firm in the face of Union fire. It was much quieter on Saturday.

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