Smithsonian

Air and Space Museum's Center in Virginia Reopens: Here's What's New

Equipment used in Alan Shepard’s groundbreaking spaceflight plus a craft from “Star Wars” are going on display as the Udvar-Hazy Center reopens

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The Air and Space Museum's Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia, will be flying high again Wednesday after a months-long closure due to COVID-19.

The museum reopens to visitors on the 60th anniversary of Alan Shepard becoming the first American in space.

For the first time, visitors will be able to see the Mercury Capsule Freedom 7, which carried Shepard into space during a 15-minute flight at 5,000 mph.

Museum conservators are also working to preserve and study Shepard’s spacesuit and display it in the future.

“Star Wars” fans may spot something familiar: A full-sized X-wing Starfighter will be on display, too.

The craft that appeared in “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” has a wingspan of 37 feet. It will be on view in the Restoration Hanger until it’s moved to be displayed at the Air and Space Museum in D.C. in 2022.

A U.S. Navy Blue Angels F/A-18C Hornet will also be on display for the first time since joining the collection late last year. The plane was built in 1987, but key parts were kept intact just in case it must be returned to military service, the Smithsonian said.

The Udvar-Hazy Center is set to be open daily from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. You’ll need a free, timed ticket to enter and there’s a $15 parking fee. Here's more information.

The Udvar-Hazy Center is the first Smithsonian museum to reopen to the public this month. Several more, including the National Zoo, Portrait Gallery, American Art Museum and more, are set to reopen later in May.

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