The Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, VA is the partner facility to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum on the National Mall in Washington, DC. The Center opened in 2003 and contains three large hangars: the Boeing Aviation Hangar, the James S. McDonnell Space Hangar and the most recent addition, the Mary Baker Engen Restoration Hangar, dedicated to repairing and preserving artifacts. These hangars contain thousands of space and aviation artifacts, some of the most prominent being the space shuttle Discovery, a Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird and a Concorde.
Together, the Udvar-Hazy Center and the DC facility receive more than 8 million visitors per year, making the National Air and Space Museum the most popular museum in the U.S.
Along with its collection of space and aviation artifacts, the Udvar-Hazy Center offers many entertaining options for the whole family to enjoy. There is the Airbus IMAX Theater that shows aviation and space travel-related films, along with the Donald D. Engen Observation Tower. This tower provides a 360-degree view of the Washington Dulles International Airport and its surrounding area. The Center also offers daily tours, flight simulators, learning labs for children and discovery stations that allow you to touch a real space suit.
The Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center is located at 14390 Air and Space Museum Parkway in Chantilly, VA, mere minutes away from Washington Dulles International Airport. Regular hours are 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., but the museum does not close until 6:30 p.m. during the summer.
(Photo credit: Dane Penland, Smithsonian Institution)
The Udvar-Hazy Center can be reached via public transportation, but it will require a combination of options. From DC, Metrobus 5A can be taken from L’Enfant Plaza metro station to Dulles Airport. From Dulles (or other parts of Northern Virginia), the Virginia Regional Transit Association can provide bus service to the Center. If driving from the south, take I-66 West to Route 28 North. From the north, take I-495 West to Route 267. From the west, use I-66 or Route 29. Public parking at the facility is $15, but refunds are given to those just dropping off or picking up passengers. All cars arriving after 4 p.m. can park for free.
- The Udvar-Hazy Center required 15 years of preparation, from initial funding to its opening in 2003.
- Before the Udvar-Hazy Center opened, the overflow of artifacts that the National Air and Space Museum had was housed at the Paul E. Garber Preservation, Restoration and Storage Facility in Silver Hill, MD.
- The Center appears in the 2009 film, “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.”
- The SR-71 Blackbird has held the world record for fastest air-breathing manned aircraft since 1976.
- The Center covers 760,000 square feet.
- Many of the docents are retired pilots and aviation specialists – both military and civilian – so they often have interesting stories and accounts of the planes on display.