Space Race

May 16, 1997 – March 27, 2022

Skylab Orbital Workshop, National Air and Space Museum

National Air and Space Museum
6th St. & Independence Ave., SW
Washington, DC

1st Floor, East Wing, Space Race, Gallery 114

See on Map Floor Plan

This major exhibition traces the competition in space between the U.S. and the former Soviet Union from its origins in the 1950s to the recent international cooperation. Objects include a Soyuz TM-10 spacecraft, a Kosmos 1443 "Merkur" spacecraft, and a space suit made for the never-accomplished mission to land a Russian on the Moon. The exhibition is divided into the following sections:

  • Military Origins of the Space Race examines the rivalry to develop rockets powerful enough to send thermo-nuclear warheads across the globe.
  • Secret Eyes in Space reveals long-secret reconnaissance projects and includes the recently declassified "Corona" spy satellite camera.
  • Racing to the Moon looks at the public accomplishments of both countries and includes the Soviet "Krechet" lunar space suit and the Apollo space suit.
  • Exploring the Moon looks at the equipment developed to transmit pictures of the lunar surface to Earth, to perform chemical analyses of the soil, and to do other scientific experiments and includes an Apollo Lunar Landing Module.
  • A Permanent Presence in Space looks at the efforts of both countries to establish permanent space stations for continued scientific discovery and the beginning of an era of cooperation in space.
  • Fifty Years of Human Spaceflight examines how the Soviet Union and the United States raced to launch the first humans into space in 1961, during the Cold War.
  • Repairing the Hubble Space Telescope features the Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 (WFPC2) and the Corrective Optics Space Telescope Axial Replacement (COSTAR), which corrected the optics of the telescope in 1993.

Objects include:

  • Skylab Orbital Workshop
  • German V-1 "buzz bomb" and V 2 missile
  • Soviet and U.S. spacecraft and space suits
  • Full-size test version of the Hubble Space Telescope