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Journey through NASA's history with more than 100 images on view at the Chrysler Museum of Art
A researcher inspects a Gemini spacecraft mounted on a sting in the 11-Inch Hypersonic Tunnel in 1962. Why the spacecraft is pointed forward in its ascent attitude, but without its service module or Titan II booster for this test is not certain, but it may have involved launch abort aerodynamics. Courtesy NASA Langley Research Center.

NORFOLK, VA.- The Chrysler Museum of Art will celebrate NASA Langley Research Center’s centennial with Picturing Innovation: The First 100 Years at NASA Langley. The photography exhibit opens Oct. 7 and will be on view in the Frank Photography Galleries and Focus Gallery through March 11, 2018. Admission is free.

Since its founding 100 years ago, NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va., has been changing how we fly, explore space and see our planet. With more than 100 images, the exhibition depicts many of Langley’s pioneering innovations, including pilots testing experimental planes, engineers operating the facility’s famous wind tunnels and astronauts preparing to take the first steps on the moon.

“The photographic archive at Langley includes millions of images that document the history of aeronautics research, space exploration and atmospheric analysis,” says Seth Feman, the Chrysler Museum’s acting curator of photography. “We selected photographs that richly illustrate Langley’s innovations with an eye to how the photographic medium has supported those discoveries.”

In addition to dynamic images of Langley’s innovations, visitors will find photographs that depict scientists using cameras to perform their research as well as the stunning images those researchers produced. Highlights include photographs that use special techniques to depict the flow of air around test models and composite images of the moon’s surface made in the 1960s by the Lunar Orbiter, a satellite equipped with a special camera, processor and transmitter. The show also includes artifacts on loan from NASA Langley and a family-friendly Lunar Lounge where visitors can learn about far-flung planets and discover how wind tunnels work.

Established in 1917 as the first civilian aeronautical laboratory in the United States, Langley served as the primary research facility for the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), whose founding mission was to address “the problems of flight with a view to their practical solution.”

Langley’s first researchers approached flight innovation with a series of experimental projects to improve aircraft engineering, design and performance. New wing and cowling shapes along with drag-cleanup efforts advanced flight efficiency and speed. Just a few years after opening, Langley was widely recognized as the world’s leading aeronautical research site. In collaboration with aviation companies and the military, Langley took on the challenges of supersonic flight after World War II, developing high-speed aircraft, including the X-1, the first plane to break the sound barrier, and the X-15, the first winged aircraft to reach the edge of our atmosphere.

After NACA was transformed into the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in 1958, researchers began to focus on space exploration and environmental research as well. Langley played a leading role in the development and execution of NASA’s first manned space program, Project Mercury, and astronauts were trained at Langley to rendezvous new spacecraft in orbit as part of Project Gemini.

For the Apollo lunar missions, Langley built the Lunar Landing Research Facility to prepare astronauts to land and move on the moon and to return home safely. Langley researchers also helped map Mars as part of the Viking missions. While moving people and rockets beyond Earth’s atmosphere, Langley scientists developed technologies for observing the atmosphere itself. Using advanced radio signals, laser beams and satellite technology, Langley researchers have studied atmospheric conditions, making the research center an international leader in climate science.

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