On October 22nd, more than 40 SSPI members, their guests, and families were granted a private tour of a hidden gem in the Baltimore/DC area collection of specialized museums and historical sites: The National Electronics Museum. Located in Linthicum Maryland, not far from BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport, the National Electronics Museum offers visitors access to the electronic marvels that have helped to shape—and defend—our nation and the world. The museum provides hands-on displays and antique electronics that cover the history of electronic communications, reconnaissance, and weaponry. We even enjoyed the recently opened exhibit "Satellites: Transforming Our Lives." The event and happy hour reception was co-hosted by SSPI Mid-Atlantic and Inmarsat.
Our tour guide was Michael Simons, who gave detailed background info on much of the exhibited tech. We saw the Westinghouse Lunar TV Camera carried on Apollo 11 (shown at left) that brought images of the first manned mission to the Moon to back to TVs around the globe.
Simons even gave an interesting backstory as to why the Westinghouse TV crew called themselves the "FURCAT" team. The "-RCAT" referred to their rival RCA-TV, which was also vying for the NASA camera contract.
The "FU-" prefix is ... perhaps self-explanatory.
Simons also explained how the sudden end to World War 2 resulted in an unexpected surplus in magnetrons, which were the heart of the Allies' advanced radar systems used in battle. This surplus led inventors to try to find a new application for these magnetrons, hence the microwave oven industry was born.
The highlight for many was the tour of the Satellites: Transforming Our Lives exhibit. This was an excellent introduction for students to the technology, types of orbits, launch vehicles, and satellite applications, and a reminder to the SSPI members why we were drawn to this industry.
The National Electronic Museum is truly a find in the DC Metropolitan area, an inexpensive side trip for kids and adults to expand their knowledge of the history and evolving technologies in the satellite industry. They also book school special activities and personalized learning for individual schools or groups of school-age children with lots of hands-on activities for students looking to get involved in STEM studies. Find out more at www.nationalelectronicsmuseum.org, or contact them directly about personalized tours at 410-765-0230 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Left: Guests were thrown "under the bus." -- The Boeing 702SP Bus, to be exact.
(Article and Photos: Brendan Murray, SSPI-Mid Atlantic)