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Blast Off: Spacecraft and ICBMs at the USAF Museum

Written by on Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012

Branching off from the National Museum of the United States Air Force’s Cold War exhibit is the Missile and Space display. Much of the economic and military competition between the US and the Soviet Union focused on the space race, to see who could put a man into space first and, more importantly, who could put a man on the Moon. Unfortunately, the Soviet Union beat the US by putting Yuri Gagarin in space, but the ensuing technological race helped catapult the US into the modern era.

Marking the exhibit is the Apollo 15 Command Module, which was the fourth vessel to successfully bring man to the moon. This compact module is only 10 feet tall and 10 feet wide, but it had enough space to accommodate three astronauts during their return trip to Earth.

Further along the entryway to the Missile and Space exhibit are the Mercury and Gemini spacecrafts. Each device played a critical role in the US’s ability to collect data about space. The Mercury spacecraft was the first manned US space vessel, while the Gemini acted as a testing ground for further space missions. Astronauts in the Gemini tested long-term exposure to zero-gravity environments, as well as various re-entry techniques.

Standing tall at the back of the exhibit are seven cheap cialis from canada early intercontinental ballistic missiles. These deadly weapons helped to ensure world peace by assuring the complete and total destruction of any nation willing to enter war with the US. The largest of these is the Titan II, which was capable of taking a nine megaton warhead over 9000 miles. It stands alongside its predecessor, the Titan I.

The Titans were eventually replaced by the Minuteman missiles, which revolutionized the effectiveness of ICBMs by utilizing a solid rocket booster, which allowed it to launch much more quickly, and an internal digital computer, which drastically improved accuracy.

Resting on a platform near the tips of the missiles are the Project MANHIGH, Stargazer, and Excelsior Gondolas. The USAF used these devices to test extremely high atmospheric conditions, and to test re-entry techniques. In 1959, a USAF captain jumped from the Excelsior Gondola while it was at a height of 31 kilometers (approximately 19 miles), and plummeted to earth for a full 13 minutes and 45 seconds, breaking several world records in the process.

These devices literally made US history. They were pivotal in securing the safety of the US against foreign threats, instrumental in the space race, and helped the US gain valuable scientific data about orbital space.

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