While attending the Mars Society Convention in Washington D.C. last August, I tore myself away from the event just long enough to race through one of the most spectacular space museums in the world, Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum. Multiple friends had told me I would lose my mind walking around their gallery and when I finally got there, the experience did not disappoint.
Most people are surprised when I tell them how exciting the museum experience is today; that’s why I always like to take people with me on these experiences. This time I was flying solo, and I was like a kid in a candy store. From the moment I walked in, I found myself immersed in the rich history of space’s gradual evolution. Some of the most significant moments of the birth of our solar system to man’s first journey to the stars are just around every corner. Truth be told, any space or science enthusiast could spend days going from one artifact to another, discovering what part it played in changing the face of space travel as we know it.
Most galleries only prominently feature either space travel or astronomy, but rarely both. Not the Smithsonian, though. This place is the rare gem that explores both flawlessly, from the birth of flight, to our journey to the stars, and to what is out there that makes each one of us look up at the night sky and wonder. And wonder (and wander) you will when visiting the Air and Space Museum. There’s a sense of awe here that can not be understood until you experience it.
My visit came in the middle of the summer, so the museum was packed on all levels. Kids of all ages ran from piece to piece, asking questions aloud to no one at all. Just feeling the wonder of what it took for humans to go to space and walk on the moon. One room, in particular, is dedicated specifically to the men and women of the space programs and all they have achieved.