Feature

National Air and Space Museum Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center
10.23.03
picture of entryway for Udvar-Hazy Center
Entryway to the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center
The Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum is building the new Steven F. Udvar-Hazy (pronounced OOD-var HAH-zee) Center, a second facility for the display and preservation of its collection of historic aviation and space artifacts. The center is named for International Lease Finance Corp. founder and Chief Executive Officer Steven F. Udvar-Hazy, who contributed $65 million for the facility. With the addition of the Udvar-Hazy Center, the National Air and Space Museum will be able to display more history, science and technology of flight.

The Udvar-Hazy Center, the companion facility to the Air and Space Museum's flagship building on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., is located at Washington Dulles International Airport in Chantilly, Virginia. The distance between the two sites is 28 miles.

The initial phase of the Udvar-Hazy Center will open in December 2003, in time to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the first powered flight by the Wright brothers. It will include the aviation hangar, observation tower, IMAX theater, classrooms, and food court. The James S. McDonnell Space Hangar will be completed by opening day with the Space Shuttle Enterprise installed and visible. The hangar will not be accessible to the public for several months as Enterprise undergoes refurbishment and other artifacts are installed.

Some 200 aircraft and 135 large space artifacts will ultimately be on display at the center. Highlights include:
picture of Space Shuttle Enterprise on top of a Boeing 747.
The Space Shuttle Enterprise, the First Space Shuttle, Arrives at Washington Dulles International Airport Riding Piggyback Aboard a Boeing 747
  • Space Shuttle Enterprise: From 1977 through 1979, NASA used this vehicle for approach and landing test flights in the atmosphere as well as vibration tests and launch pad fit checks on the ground. Enterprise also was featured at the Paris Air Show in 1983 and the 1984 World's Fair before being transferred to the Smithsonian in 1985.


  • SR-71 Blackbird reconnaissance plane: Although first designed and built in the early 1960s, the SR-71 Blackbird is still the fastest, highest flying operational jet-powered aircraft ever built. The aircraft can fly more than 2200 mph (Mach 3+, or more than three times the speed of sound) and at altitudes of over 85,000 feet. On its final flight, the National Air and Space Museum's Blackbird set a transcontinental speed record when it flew from the West Coast to the East Coast in 68 minutes and 17 seconds.


  • Spacelab module: Spacelab was a versatile, modular laboratory installed in the payload bay of the space shuttle; it permitted the shuttle to be used as an intermittent space station during the 1980s and 1990s. From 1983, when the first Spacelab mission was flown as STS-9, through 1998, when the final Spacelab mission flew as STS-90, elements of this research facility were used in more than 40 flights, 22 of them designated as Spacelab missions. Astronauts performed hundreds of Spacelab experiments, working in close communication with scientists on the ground. Spacelab elements include a 23-foot-long laboratory module fully equipped for research, exposed pallets and a pointing system for telescopes and other scientific instruments, a subsystems igloo for the pallets, and a crew transfer tunnel linking the laboratory to the crew cabin. Spacelab will be displayed beside the space shuttle test vehicle Enterprise.


  • XV-15 tilt rotor aircraft: Inspired by tilt rotor research begun with the Bell XV-3 convertiplane in the 1950's, the XV-15 made its first flight, after extensive testing, in May of 1977. The XV-15 Tilt rotor's unique design gave it the ability to take-off, hover and land like a helicopter, yet fly with the range and speed of a turboprop aircraft and was one of NASA's most successful research aircraft.
photograph of XV-15 tilt rotor landing on airstrip
The Experimental XV-15 Tilt Rotor, on its Final Flight, Prepares to Touch
Down at the National Air and Space Museum's New Steven F.
Udvar-Hazy Center

Hellmuth, Obata + Kassebaum (HOK), a full-service international architecture firm, was commissioned to design the Udvar-Hazy Center. The entire center will eventually be approximately 760,000 square feet. The aviation hangar will contain three levels of aircraft, two levels suspended from the ceiling and a third positioned on the floor. For visitors to experience the sensation of soaring along with the aircraft and to study the artifacts in greater detail, elevated walkways will run parallel to the two tiers of the suspended aircraft.

The new Udvar-Hazy museum will generate new awe and respect for this nation’s aviation and space accomplishments. To learn more, please visit the sites below.

Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center Web site
http://www.nasm.si.edu/udvarhazy

National Air and Space Museum Web site
http://www.nasm.si.edu