Washingtonians will be treated to a once-in-a-lifetime sight on April 17: The Space Shuttle Discovery buzzing the nation’s capital.
NASA yesterday announced that Discovery will cross over Washington and surrounding areas that day as it makes its way to its final home at the Smithsonian’s Udvar-Hazy Center near Dulles Airport. If you’re anywhere near its flight path, expect to get a good look — the Boeing 747 carrying Discovery will only be 1,500 feet off the ground at times. (The Hill points out that the Washington Monument is roughly 555 feet high, to give you a frame of reference.)
The exact flight path hasn’t been set yet, but NASA plans to fly it by the National Mall, Reagan National Airport, National Harbor, and the Udvar-Hazy Center before landing at Dulles.
So if you’re in or around Washington next Tuesday, get your cameras ready and expect all work to grind to a halt between 10 and 11 a.m. It’ll undoubtedly be something to see.
The legendary Parliament-Funkadelic Mothership is coming to the Smithsonian.
The Washington Post reports that George Clinton has donated the greatest stage prop ever to be part of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African-American History and Culture when it opens in 2015. The 1,200-pound Mothership will be part of the museum’s permanent music exhibition, alongside Louis Armstrong’s trumpet, James Brown’s stage costumes, and Lena Horne’s evening gowns. “But,” the Post notes, “it will be the only spaceship.”
This is the second Mothership — the first was abandoned in a Prince George’s County, Md., junkyard in 1982 during the band’s debt- and drug-fueled nadir and vanished. Despite the Post’s best efforts, it hasn’t been seen since.
To celebrate this glorious news, enjoy the video below of the Mothership landing in 1976, and re-read The Onion’s classic article “Clinton Threatens To Drop Da Bomb On Iraq.”
The roof of the Smithsonian Museum Support Center in Suitland, Md., collapsed this morning, WUSA9 is reporting.
The building is the Smithsonian’s main off-site storage warehouse for museum artifacts. It’s unknown what, if any, artifacts may have been damaged by the roof collapse, according to the report. Firefighters responded to the scene before 7 a.m. and shut off electricity and natural gas to the warehouse.
Officials have been warning about the dangers of roofs collapsing from the weight of all the snow the area has received. According to Michael McGill, spokesman for the General Services Administration’s National Capital Region, damage to buildings maintained by GSA has been minimal so far. A sprinkler burst in one of the buildings at the Food and Drug Administration’s headquarters campus in White Oak, Md. GSA also had to shore up the roof of its 1 million square foot warehouse in Franconia, Va., which was weakened by damage from December’s storm.
There are few things as enduring as a diamond. And the Hope Diamond at the Smithsonian Institutionâ€™s National Museum of Natural History is one of the most famous. But even icons need a little sprucing up from time to time.
To celebrate the golden anniversary of the museumâ€™s acquisition of the 45.52 karat blue diamond, the jewelers at Harry Winston will give it a new setting meant to depict the concept of America hope, the Smithsonian announced last week. And the American public gets to decide which design the rock will rock.
The resetting of the stone is part of a Smithsonian Channel documentary about the blue diamondâ€™s history, â€œMystery of the Hope Diamond,â€ which will air in March.
And a fascinating history it has. According to legend, there is a curse that has led to tragedy for anyone who has owned the stone. As a result some believe the diamondâ€™s curse is connected to the fall of the French monarchy and the many tragedies in the life the American socialite Evalyn Walsh McLean, who owned it before it was sold to Harry Winston in 1949. Winston donated the stone to the Smithsonian in 1958.
You can vote on the new setting here. Voting ends Sept. 7. But Hope Diamond purists, do not despair. The resetting of the stone is only temporary. It will return to its current setting by the end of 2010.
A group of Republican and Democratic senators trimmed nearly $100 billion from the economic stimulus package over the last few days. Most economists say the cuts are a bad idea, because the smaller the stimulus bill, the less stimulative its effect on the economy. (Think of driving up an icy hill: If you’re not going fast enough, you slide back down.)
Federal managers might not like the cuts, either: The revised Senate stimulus plan eliminates billions of dollars that were allocated for federal agencies.
One of the biggest cuts will hurt the General Services Administration. The House stimulus bill gives GSA almost $7 billion to make federal buildings more energy-efficient. The Senate version cuts that in half â€” to $3.5 billion.
Other items cut from the Senate plan:
- $122 million for the Coast Guard’s new polar icebreakers;
- $200 million for new screening equipment for the Transportation Security Administration;
- $75 million from the Smithsonian, which the institution would have used for capital improvements (the House bill included $150 million);
- $200 million for the Environmental Protection Agency’s Superfund program;
- $200 million for the National Science Foundation;
- $1 billion for Head Start.