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Chantilly, Virginia: Space Shuttle Discovery

If you visit the Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC, expecting to see a Space Shuttle -- you're out of luck. It's 30 miles out of town, at the remote Museum annex. Bonus: in the same room as the Shuttle is the quarantine trailer used by the Apollo 11 moon men.

Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center

14390 Air and Space Museum Pkwy, Chantilly, VA
Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center. I-495 W. (Capital Beltway) to the Dulles Toll Rd W. (Route 267). Exit the toll road at Route 28 S. (exit 9A) and drive south 3.5 miles. Exit at Air and Space Museum Pkwy and follow signs to the Udvar-Hazy Center.
Daily 10-5:30 (Call to verify) Local health policies may affect hours and access.
Free, parking is $15.
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
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Visitor Tips and News About Space Shuttle Discovery

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Nazi Rheintochter R I Missile.

Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center

Yes, they have Space Shuttle Discovery. Yes, they have the spaceship model from Close Encounters. But there is also a Nazi rocket with wooden fins. Did they conscript the Amish to build munitions? Was rocket building consider an art or craft? I'm not sure, but what I can tell you is this rocket has many more wooden parts than I would ever have imagined.

[skk, 04/11/2017]

The Rheintochter R I Missile -- another reason to visit the annex to the Air and Space Museum.


Close Encounters Mothership Model

Inside the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center [home to one of the Space Shuttles] is the mothership model from the movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind. If you look closely, you'll see that the model-makers scattered several "in-jokes" on the model's complicated surface, such as a miniature "Star Wars" R2-D2 and a cemetery.

Back in the good old days, when Close Encounters was filmed, they actually strung little incandescent bulbs on the model for lighting effects. A docent at the museum told me that they used to occasionally fire up the lights to amuse the patrons, but when the mothership started to smolder they had to stop that practice.

[John Takao Collier, 10/31/2015]

Space Shuttle Discovery.

Space Shuttle Discovery

Upon entering the hangar (which sits on Dulles Airport runways) the space shuttle is straight back. It has its own room, with other exhibits around it. An astronaut floats above it wearing a jet pack. The shuttle is enormous.

The entire museum has every type of plane imaginable. It truly is unbelievable what flies above us daily. Parking is $15 but best kept secret is to wait until 4 pm and it's free, then you have 90 minutes to tour or 2 1/2 hours during summer hours. The control tower closes at 4:30 pm.

[Dj, 04/05/2015]

Nearby Offbeat Places

FoamhengeFoamhenge, Centreville, VA - 3 mi.
Big Horse Head Outside Apt. BuildingBig Horse Head Outside Apt. Building, Fairfax, VA - 5 mi.
National Firearms MuseumNational Firearms Museum, Fairfax, VA - 7 mi.
In the region:
Reclining Liberty, Arlington, VA - 19 mi.

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