In the Museum: High Flier

Restoring the Northrop YP-61 Black Widow

Northrop built 13 YP-61s, which were used for flight testing. This YP-61's dorsal turret sported two guns, whereas later designs had four; counting the belly-mounted cannon, the P-61 was the most heavily armed fighter of the war. (NASM (Si Neg. #SI72-7873))
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Concerned that astronauts returning from the moon might harbor extraterrestrial microorganisms, Apollo program directors at NASA quarantined the space travelers in Airstream trailers outfitted with living and sleeping quarters, plus a kitchen and a latrine. NASA built four Mobile Quarantine Facilities, one of which is now on display at the National Air and Space Museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center at Washington-Dulles International Airport in northern Virginia. The Museum’s Airstream was occupied by the crew of Apollo 11—Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins—for 65 hours after their capsule splashed down in the Pacific. With the men inside, the Airstream was transported aboard the USS Hornet aircraft carrier, eventually arriving at the Lunar Receiving Laboratory at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. The quarantine ended after NASA scientists determined that the astronauts were free of moon germs.


Visitor Information

June 13 Lecture: Exploring Weather and Climate—A History of “Cutting Edges” and “Killer Apps.” Free tickets can be obtained online through; for more information, call (202) 633-2398. Lockheed Martin IMAX Theater, Museum on the Mall, 8 p.m.


June 17 & July 22 Saturday Star Party. Observe celestial objects in dark skies unpolluted by city lights. Sky Meadows State Park, Virginia, 8:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. Parking fee: $4 per car; park phone number: (540) 592-3556.

Curator’s Choice
Occasionally a National Air and Space Museum curator gives a 15-minute talk about an artifact or subject of interest at either the National Air and Space Museum on the Mall or the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in northern Virginia. In the Museum on the Mall, meet at noon at the gold seal near the Information Desk; in the Udvar-Hazy Center, at the nose of the SR-71 Blackbird aircraft at 12:30 p.m.

Museum on the Mall: June 7, V-2 mobile launch operations; June 14, Robert McCall’s space art.

Udvar-Hazy Center: June 1, Apollo 12 camera; June 15, Bell XV-15 Tilt Rotor.


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