Air and Space Museum celebrates space exploration

WASHINGTON – Saturday was Space Day at the Air and Space Museum, and excited crowds of all ages packed in to celebrate with astronauts, space suits, space-themed Lego displays and make-your-own mission patches.

One of the speakers was astronaut Pat Forrester, who says “I’ve been living in D.C. since I was a little boy. I never miss an opportunity to come in here. I’m always amazed at what we as humans have done in exploration.”

The retired Army colonel, a graduate of West Springfield High School, flew on shuttle missions in 2001, 2007 and 2009. According to NASA, he has spent more than 950 hours in space, including four spacewalks. He currently works in NASA’s astronaut office.

“There’s a misconception out there that the space program’s over because we’ve retired the space shuttle, but we’ve got a very active space program both with putting humans on the International Space Station, but also as we begin to go beyond low-Earth orbit,” Forrester says.

ILC Dover, which has made space suits for NASA spacewalks since 1962, had a display with a suit from the Apollo era and another from today. The company’s Bill Ayrey describes a space suit as “like a miniature spaceship” because of all the technology built in.

But the colors of a space suit are important too, he says. “The white color helps keep the suit cooler; you don’t want to absorb that heat. And then of course, the gold visor. The visor is actual gold material, and it’ll reflect that sunlight away from the suit.

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