On December 15th, the National Air & Space Museum’s Udvar-Hazy Center celebrated its 17th anniversary. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., the Udvar-Hazy Center is an annex of the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum located near Washington Dulles International Airport in Fairfax County, Virginia. Here, visitors can witness some of the most famous aircraft vessels ever built on display, including the B-29 Superfortress Enola Gay which dropped the atom bomb on Hiroshima during WWII, the first supersonic commercial airliner Concord, and the Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird – the fastest jet ever flown.
Along with the aforementioned aircraft, visitors to the center can also see the space shuttle Discovery on display, which dominates the James S. McDonnell hangar at the facility, along with the Gemini IV capsule, which astronauts Frank Borman and Jim Lovell lived in for two weeks during their 1965 mission. Though construction of the center was completed in 2010, it is still considered a “work in progress” as more spacecraft and aircraft are restored and added to the center for display.
The Udvar-Hazy Center is widely considered one of the best in the world for showcasing the potential of public-private partnerships in space exploration, as well as the innovation and investment in technology to advance humanity’s capabilities for space exploration. It is helping to inspire a new generation of entrepreneurs, technology innovators, and aspiring cosmonauts seventeen years after its public unveiling.
One member of this new generation is Tim Chrisman, Founder and Executive Director of Foundation For The Future. A US Army veteran, Chrisman understands the importance of private-public partnerships and the place they have in furthering advancements in technology and society. His foundation seeks to become the current generation’s hub to act as the bridge between civil space and federal policy, in order to create the base for a private-public infrastructure to spearhead future space exploration. The result, according to Chrisman’s Foundation, would make space exploration – and the technological advancements used in future space exploration – more accessible to all.
“Humanity’s relationship with outer space is going to change with the construction of the first space elevator,” said Chrisman, “it is time to build a tomorrow we can believe in.”
In 2021, the Foundation For The Future is working to create a United States Space Port Authority, highlighting not only the capacity but the efficacy of investing in and growing private-public partnerships in space exploration, just as the Udvar-Hazy center has done for the past seventeen years.