National Air and Space Museum Receives $1 Million Gift From Aerojet Rocketdyne Foundation

Gift Supports Newly Reopened “Destination Moon” Gallery
November 2, 2022
News Release

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Underside of rocket launcher

Saturn V F-1 liquid fuel rocket engine and the 1/4 cutaway F-1 liquid fuel rocket engine in the “Destination Moon” exhibition at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC. Credit: Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum/Jim Preston

The Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum has received $1 million from the Aerojet Rocketdyne Foundation in support of the new “Destination Moon” exhibition. The gift will contribute to the safe preservation and display of the F-1 rocket engine. The redesign of the exhibition is part of the museum’s ongoing transformation of all its galleries in the flagship building in Washington, D.C.; “Destination Moon” reopened Oct. 14.

“The Aerojet Rocketdyne Foundation’s generous contribution is critical to successfully completing and opening ‘Destination Moon,’” said Michael Neufeld, senior curator at the National Air and Space Museum. “In its new configuration and display, the F-1 engine is sure to be a highlight for the many visitors that explore the gallery.”

The F-1 engine is still the most powerful liquid-propellant rocket engine ever built. To help visitors understand its scale and power, the display features a full-size test engine built in 1963, a one-quarter section of a center engine and mirrors that give visitors the sense that they are standing inside the flame trench with all five F-1 engines of the Saturn V moon rocket above them.

The museum’s unparalleled collection of space exploration-related artifacts form the foundation of “Destination Moon.” It features iconic artifacts like Neil Armstrong’s Apollo 11 spacesuit, the Apollo 11 Command Module Columbia, the Mercury Freedom 7 capsule and Gene Kranz’s vest from the Apollo 13 mission, alongside smaller pieces that also help to tell the full story of human space exploration, such as Armstrong’s Omega Speedmaster chronograph and a sewing machine used to make astronaut spacesuits. The exhibition also sheds light on the more than 400,000 people who contributed to NASA’s Apollo program. 

“Five of our F-1 engines powered the launch of each Apollo mission to the moon, and now visitors can feel like they are right in the flame trench with these engineering marvels,” said Eileen P. Drake, Aerojet Rocketdyne CEO and president. “Opening the new ‘Destination Moon’ exhibition couldn’t be timelier, as NASA prepares for the Artemis I mission to the moon and the first launch of its Space Launch System. The National Air and Space Museum truly represents the past, present and future of space exploration, and our engines have been there every step of the way.”

“The Aerojet Rocketdyne Foundation is committed to inspiring current and future generations of STEM students and building partnerships to enhance the communities where we live and work,” said John Schumacher, who served as Aerojet Rocketdyne Foundation president when the gift was presented on behalf of the foundation. “As NASA’s Artemis program returns Americans to the moon, our gift to the National Air and Space Museum will help us reach a broader audience and impact them in a new, bold way.”

More information is available about how the museum is transforming all of its exhibitions and revitalizing the building. 

The National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C., is located at Sixth Street and Independence Avenue S.W. The Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center is located in Chantilly, Virginia, near Washington Dulles International Airport. 

The Aerojet Rocketdyne Foundation is a 501(c) (3) independent nonprofit philanthropic organization established in 1999 to provide charitable resources to inspire the current and next generations of students, support advances in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education and build local partnerships to enhance the future workforce in communities where the company does business and where its employees live, work and volunteer.

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SI-357-2022

Media Only

Alison Mitchell

(202) 633-2376

mitchellac@si.edu

Amy Stamm

(202) 633-2370

stamma@si.edu

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