Space Flight

The Evergreen Space Museum transports you back to a time when travel to the stars was just a dream, and then winds you through history from miniature rockets launched from remote farms to the robotic spacecraft we know today. See the artifacts and spacecraft up close – from rocket booster systems to manned and unmanned spacecrafts.

Early & Earth Bound Rockets

The first milestone of space travel took place, not on the coast of Florida, but on a New England farm field, where on March 16, 1926, a flimsy, liquid fuel-driven structure lifted off and flew 41 feet into the sky – so began man’s journey to the stars. Learn more about the earliest achievements in space exploration with our historic exhibit.

Goddard
Goddard 1926 Liquid Fuel Rocket Replica Humanity stepped onto to road to the stars in March, 1926 when Dr. Robert Goddard launched his first successful liquid-fueled rocket in Auburn, Massachusetts. A simple design utilizing a rocket motor mounted above the fuel tanks for stability, burning liquid oxygen and gasoline, the rocket lifted out of its launch stand and flew to a height of 41 feet before crashing to earth. Despite its short flight, the rocket proved that liquid fuels could be used as propellants for future space vehicles. The replica on display was built by the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum volunteers.

V-2 Rocket
V-2 Rocket The V-2 rocket was the first long-range ballistic missile and is the first manmade object to reach space. Developed by Germany at Peenemünde and produced by forced labor in an underground factory called Mittelwerk, the Nazis used the V-2 as a terror weapon. Over 5000 were launched at England and the Netherlands. Captured V-2s, and the scientists who designed them became the core of the US missile program following World War II.

Loon Missile
Loon Missile Based on a captured German V-1 Buzz Bomb, the Loon was America’s first production cruise missile. It was reverse-engineered from wrecked V-1s gathered by Allied forces in World War II and was produced for use against Japan. Like the V-1, it was launched from a ramp on the ground or from under the wing of an airplane, but experiments were also done by the Navy, launching them from submarines. Although the war ended before the Loon could be used in combat, it gave the US lots of practical experience in operating missiles. This original Loon is on loan from the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center.

Gorgon IIa Missile As aircraft became faster and faster in the jet age, machine guns simply did not have the range to be effective in aerial combat, so a new weapon was needed: the air to air missile. The Gorgon IIa was designed by Martin to be launched from one aircraft to shoot down another, and was remotely guided by an operator using a television camera in the nose. It proved to be totally unsuited for that role, as the rocket powered missile was very hard to control and needed a big aircraft to carry it. Only 21 Gorgon IIa missiles were built.

North American X-15
North American X-15 While NASA worked on sending humans into space in space capsules, they were also involved in sending men to space in a winged vehicle; the X-15. A rocket powered aircraft carried aloft beneath the wing of a B-52 bomber, the X-15 was designed to test the hypersonic flight realm. Eight X-15 pilots would earn their astronaut wings, flying over 50 miles high. The three X-15s flew 199 research flights, with only one fatal accident. This X-15 is a full scale mock-up built by North American Aviation and is on loan from the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center.

Boosters

Boosters

Whether the payload is a atom bomb or an astronaut, the first step into space is the rocket booster which propels the vehicle into space. These increasingly huge engines unleashed the massive thrust necessary to break away from earth’s gravity and start the exploration of space.

Titan II SLV The development of the Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) was the single greatest catalyst of the space race between the US and the Soviet Union, and of the U.S. ICBMs, the Titan II was the largest. They were launched from underground silos, and could be kept fueled for long periods of time. Their heavy-lift capability was used to boost the Gemini manned spacecraft into orbit and later, decommissioned ICBMs were converted to launch satellites.

Aerojet XLR-87 Rocket Engine Providing power for the Titan I Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM), the XLR-87 rocket engine consisted of two thrust chambers that burned RP-1 kerosene and liquid oxygen to create 300,000 pounds of thrust. Each chamber and nozzle could be steered or “gimbaled” to control the missile’s flight. The Titan I was created as a back-up to the Atlas ICBM, but had a short service life, as the liquid oxygen fuel could not be loaded until just before launch, giving it a slow response time. It was replaced by the Titan II. This XLR-87 engine is on loan from the National Air & Space Museum

RD-107 Rocket Engine One of the most successful rocket engines of all time, the RD-107 was designed by brilliant Russian engineer, Valentin Glushko for the R-7 Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM). Its four thrust chambers use a single set of turbo-pumps to feed them liquid oxygen and kerosene to general over 218,000 pounds of thrust. RD-107 engines were used on the R-7 boosters that launched Sputnik; the first satellite and Vostok 1; the first manned spacecraft to orbit the Earth, as well as 1700 other launches, making it the most produced rocket engine in history. This RD-107 engine is on loan from the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center.

PGM-11 Redstone Missile A direct descendant of the World War II V-2 missile, the PGM-11 was designed by Werhner von Braun and his team of German scientists brought to America after the war by the U.S. Army. Named for the Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama where the team was working, the PGM-11 was a short range missile (up to 200 miles) that could carry a nuclear warhead. Modified Redstones were used to launch America’s first satellite; Explorer 1 and the first two Americans, Alan Shepard and Gus Grissom, into space as part of Project Mercury. This Redstone is on loan from the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center.

Rocketdyne H-1
Rocketdyne H-1 Rocket Engine Used on the Saturn 1 and Saturn 1b boosters, the Rocketdyne H-1 engine was “stop-gap” measure that turned out to be a great success. Burning kerosene and liquid oxygen, the H-1s produced 205,000 pounds of thrust, and eight of them were used for the first-stage of the Saturns, rather than four larger E-1 engines that never did reach production. The Saturn 1 and 1b were the first heavy-lift boosters designed for civilian use, and NASA used them to launch a series of satellites as well as Apollo 7 and all three manned Skylab flights. This H-1 engine is on loan from the National Air & Space Museum.

Rocketdyne J-2
Rocketdyne J-2 Rocket Engine One of the critical components of the Saturn V rocket that took astronauts to the Moon, the J-2 engine was unique for its time as the first engine that could be re-started in space. Five J-2 engines, burning liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen to produce 232,500 pounds of thrust each, powered the second stage of the Saturn 5, and a sixth J-2 propelled the third stage into orbit around the Earth. Once in orbit, the J-2 was fired again to send the Apollo spacecraft on to the Moon. This J-2 engine is on loan from the National Air & Space Museum.

Aerojet M-1
Aerojet M-1 Rocket Engine When NASA looked at the possibility of manned missions to Mars in the 1960s, it needed a booster capable of lifting over 1 million pounds of payload into orbit. That booster was to be the Nova, and it was to be powered by multiple engines each producing 1.5 million pounds of thrust. Aerojet General designed the M-1 engine to meet this challenge. Using liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen for fuel, the M-1 was the largest rocket engine ever designed, but it never got past component testing before being cancelled in 1966. The M-1 components on display are on loan from the National Air & Space Museum.

Pratt & Whitney
Pratt & Whitney RL-10 Rocket Engine The most reliable upper stage engine in the world, the RL-10 was developed in the late 1950s and was the first rocket engine to be fueled with liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen. Utilized in the upper stage of the Saturn I, upgraded versions of the RL-10 have been used in the Centaur upper stage that sent such historic space probes at Voyager, Viking, Surveyor and Helios as well as hundreds of earth-orbiting satellites on their way. Versions of the RL-10 which generates 24,750 pounds of thrust are still in use today. This RL-10 is on loan from the National Air & Space Museum.

Rocketdyne S-3D
Rocketdyne S-3D Rocket Engine The S-3D and its military counterpart, the LR-79 were truly “workhorses” of the early days of the American missile program. Used primarily on the US Army’s Jupiter Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile (IRBM) and the Juno II satellite launch vehicles, the S-3D produced 150,000 pounds of thrust from liquid oxygen and kerosene. One Jupiter, launched in 1959 carried two monkeys, Able and Baker to an altitude of 59 miles, while others stationed in Turkey played a key role in ending the Cuban Missile Crisis. The S-3D was also successfully used to power the Air Force’s Thor IRBM missile. This is on loan from the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center.

MGM-29 Sergeant Missile
MGM-29 Sergeant Missile A short range ballistic missile developed by the Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL) and mass produced by the Sperry Utah Company, the Sergeant missile was used by the US Army from 1962 to 1977. Capable of mounting either a standard or nuclear warhead, it was guided by a Sperry inertial guidance system, using a gyroscope for stability, making it much more reliable. Its solid fuel rocket motor also cut the set-up time for a launch down to 30 minutes, in contrast to its predecessor, the Corporal, which took 9 hours to set up. The Sergeant missile on display is on loan from the National Air & Space Museum.

Manned Spacecraft

Manned Spacecraft

In 1961, the first man left the earth’s atmosphere to explore space. Since that time, man has navigated planets, orbited the earth, and walked on the moon. Follow humanity’s footsteps into space with our elaborate exhibit that explores the history manned space flight.

Mercury
Mercury Space Capsule Designed to put America’s 1st astronauts in space, Project Mercury began in October, 1958 as one of the 1st programs of National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The one man capsule was created by NASA, and built by McDonnell Aircraft. A total of 20 capsules were built, but only nine would fly in space; six with humans aboard, two with chimpanzees and one unmanned. Modified Redstone and Atlas missile were used to boost the capsules into space, and they helped America get a foothold on the space frontier. This particular Mercury Capsule, serial number 10, was not flown. It is on loan from the National Air & Space Museum.

Lunar Module
Lunar Module Replica One half of the Apollo spacecraft, the Lunar Module (LM) enabled two astronauts to land on the Moon while a 3rd astronaut orbited in the Command Service Module (CSM). The LM was designed to operate in space and never return to Earth. After exploring the moon, the astronauts took off in the upper half of the LM, (the Ascent Stage) to meet up with the CSM for a ride home. The AS then crashed back on the Moon, leaving the Descent Stage on the surface as a monument to humanity’s 1st exploration of another world. A total of 10 LMs flew between 1966-1972. Replica built by the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center.

Northrop T-38A Talon Nicknamed the “White Rocket” for its high performance flight characteristics, the T-38A was the first supersonic trainer and to date, the most produced. It is estimated that over 50,000 U.S. and NATO pilots have trained in the Talon, after learning the basics of flight in a T-37. In addition to its training role, the Talon was used by the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds flight demonstration team from 1974 to 1982, and has served NASA as a trainer and “taxi” for the astronauts since the mid-1960s. This T-38A Talon is on loan from the National Museum of the US Air Force and is painted to resemble a NASA training aircraft.

X-38
X-38 Crew Return Vehicle The X-38 was the prototype for a vehicle that could serve as a “ifeboat” and return up to seven astronauts to Earth from the International Space Station, should the need arise. Designed as a lifting body, the X-38 would land under a large steerable, wing-shaped parachute. To test the concept, NASA contracted Scaled Composites to build three 80% sized test vehicles, which were carried aloft under the wing of a B-52 bomber and dropped to test their flight characteristics. The X-38 program was cancelled in 2002, after a number of successful flights. The X-38 on display is on loan from NASA’s Johnson Space Center.

Apollo
Apollo Command Module Replica – The Command Module (CM) was the astronauts’ home for the flight to and from the Moon. The Command Module remained in orbit with 1 astronaut aboard while 2 others took the LM to explore the Moon. Upon return, the 2 moonwalkers would load samples into the CM. The Command Module was outfitted with a heat shield that could withstand the 5,000 degree, fiery plunge through the Earth’s atmosphere for a landing in the ocean. The replica Command Module was built by the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center and was used in the splashdown scenes of the movie “Apollo 13.”

Gemini
Gemini Spacecraft (Replica) After Project Mercury proved that humans could operate in space, the next step was to perfect the techniques needed to go to the Moon. The Gemini, built by McDonnell Aircraft, was designed to do just that. With a 2 man crew, it allowed astronauts to perform space walks, rendezvous and dock with other spacecraft, and demonstrate that humans could live in space for up to 2 weeks. The ten Gemini missions paved the way for Project Apollo. This replica Gemini was built by the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center for the HBO mini-series, “From the Earth to the Moon.”

Lunar Roving Vehicle
Lunar Roving Vehicle (Replica) The Lunar Roving Vehicle (LRV) was designed to give astronauts more mobility on the Moon and help them explore a larger area. Carried on the last three Apollo missions, the LRV was contained, folded up in the Descent Stage of the Lunar Module and could hit a maximum speed of 11.2 mph, driven by four electric motors. On Apollo 17, the crew drove the rover over 22.3 miles on the Moon, although they never got farther away from the LM than 4.5 miles in case it broke down and they had to walk back. All three LRVs were left on the Moon; this one is a replica.

Foton 6 Capsule
Foton 6 Capsule The Foton is an unmanned version of the Vostok capsule used to launch Yuri Gargarin , the first human in space, on his mission in April, 1961. Sent aloft on an R-7 Soyuz booster from Plesetsk Cosmodrome in Russia on April 11, 1990, Foton 6 carried more than 13,600 pounds of scientific experiments into Earth orbit for 15 days. These included materials processing experiments for Russia and France and life sciences experiments for the European Space Agency. After re-entry, it parachuted to a landing in Kazakhstan where the experiments were removed for study.

Saturn V Instrument Unit When it launched carrying the Apollo spacecraft and 3 astronauts to the Moon, all of the information it needed to guide the 383’ foot tall rocket was contained in its on-board brain; the Instrument Unit. This ring shaped structure which was mounted between the third stage of the rocket and the Lunar Module fairing, and contained a digital computer, analog flight control computer, emergency detection system, inertial guidance platform, control accelerometers and control rate gyros. Built by IBM and Bendix, it guided 28 manned and unmanned Saturn flights. This Instrument Unit is on loan from the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center.

Skylab Airlock Trainer Skylab, America’s first space station, was launched in 1973 and was home to three crews of astronauts during the next two years. On occasion, they had to go outside to perform repairs and experiments, or retrieve film canisters, and the airlock let them do that. The airlock allowed astronauts to exit and enter the station without having to pump out and replace the entire atmosphere of the station; just a small part of it. The external hatch was a left-over from the Gemini spacecraft! Astronauts trained in this unit which is on loan from the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center.

unmanned space aircrafts ships

Unmanned Spacecraft

Robotic spacecraft has carved the way for extensive space exploration in ways that manned spacecrafts cannot. From visits to the sun to exploration of planets, unmanned spacecraft have provided valuable data to further our knowledge of the universe. Follow this remarkable trajectory from the earliest unmanned craft to plans for the future with our various displays and exhibits.

Sputnik Replica
Sputnik Replica The Soviet Union shocked the world when, on the morning of October 4, 1957, they launched Sputnik; the first human made object into orbit. Sputnik circled the Earth every 96.2 minutes, broadcasting a radio beep that proclaimed its existence to the globe below. Launched atop an R-7 booster rocket, the satellite was highly polished so it could be tracked by Earth-based telescopes. The launch of Sputnik set of the “space race” between the United States and the Soviet Union, and placed the U.S. in a distant second. After three months in orbit, Sputnik re-entered the atmosphere and burned up.

Lunakhod 2
Lunokhod 2 Replica Although the Soviet Union failed in its attempt to put a man on the Moon, they did the next best thing and sent a robot. In the early 1970s, they were able to put two large rovers on the lunar surface and operate them remotely from the Earth. Lunokhod 2 landed in January 1973, and traveled over 23 miles in its four month mission, taking more than 80,000 television photos. It was solar powered, using the large array on the inside of its “clamshell” to power its systems and drive a motor in each wheel. This replica is on loan from the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center.

Syncom A Satellite Although we take for granted the fact that we can make phone calls to any point on the planet, such technology did not exist prior to the launch of Syncom. This first telephone communication satellite, it could carry only one phone call at a time. However it provided the connection for a call between President Kennedy and Prime Minister Balewa of Nigeria in August 1963; the first time two heads of state had talked by satellite. Syncoms were placed in “geosynchronos” orbits, which mean they appear to stay in the same spot in the sky all the time. Syncom A is on loan from the National Air & Space Museum.

Vega
Vega Space Probe Replica The Vega space probe was an ambitious program developed by the Soviet Union and eight other countries to explore Venus and Halley’s Comet in 1986. The two Vega probes each flew past Venus, dropping off a lander that was housed in the large “ball” on end. They then went on to make a fly-by of the comet, taking pictures. Vega 1’s lander failed, but Vega 2’s made it to the surface of Venus and survived for 56 minutes before being destroyed by the heat and pressure. The probes together returned more than 1,500 pictures of Halley’s Comet. This Vega replica is on loan from the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center.

Mars Exploration
Mars Exploration Rover “Spirit” Replica. Two Mars Exploration Rovers named Spirit & Opportunity landed on the red planet in January 2004 as the robotic hands and eyes of scientists back on Earth. Their mission was to search for evidence that water once existed on Mars. Spirit landed near Gusev crater and traveled 4.8 miles; making many new scientific discoveries that indicate Mars was once wetter and hotter. 5 years later, Spirit was stuck in loose soil in May, 2009 and despite repeated tries, could not free itself. Communication was lost in February 2010. This replica was specially commissioned for the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum.

Baker-Nunn Satellite Tracking Camera Developed for tracking the Vanguard satellite in 1958, twelve Baker-Nunn Cameras were built and set up around the globe, to photograph the satellite when it flew over. However, when the Soviet Union started launching satellites, the cameras were pointed at these new objects to see what “secrets” they held. Over the next 33 years, the Baker-Nunns, would be used by the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory and the U.S. Air Force to track and confirm the orbits of thousands of objects circling the Earth. The cameras employed some of the finest optics ever placed in a telescope, and some are still used for tracking asteroids.