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Udvar-Hazy Turns One

Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center will celebrate its first anniversary on Dec. 11.

When, Where & How Much

The Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center is located south of the Dulles Airport on Route 28. The first anniversary celebration will be held from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Dec. 11, and admission is free — although there is a $12 fee for parking. For more information, visit www.nasm.si.edu.

It's hard to name the crown jewel of the collection at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center with such a selection to pick from: the Langley Flyer, the oldest aviator artifact; the shuttle Enterprise; the Enola Gay; the mobile quarantine unit that held the Apollo 11 astronauts after their trip to the moon — it's a silver Airstream trailer, basically.

There's the Lockheed Martin Joint Strike Fighter X-35B, the latest in military technology, so new that it won't even be issued until 2007, in one corner; and the now out-of-service Concorde looking huge yet graceful in the other corner.

Everything in the museum is an original and shares a breathtaking piece of air and space history — well, almost everything. The Sojourner rover, sent to Mars in the late ‘90s, would be hard to retrieve, so a scale model sits in its place.

"If they go and collect it, it'll come here," said Frank McNally, spokesman for the center.

Before the center was built, less than 10 percent of the collection was on view at the National Air & Space Museum location in Washington — a total of 59 artifacts. The Udvar-Hazy Center now holds 106 artifacts, from airplanes to the mother ship model used in "Close Encounters of the Third Kind." In the next four to five years, McNally said, the center will hold 200 aircraft and 150 space artifacts.

THIS SATURDAY, the Udvar-Hazy Center will celebrate its first year anniversary in style. The highlight of the event will be the appearance by astronauts Fred Haise and Joe Engle, who commanded the Enterprise. Haise and Engle will be on hand all day to discuss their careers and greet the public.

The museum will also offer a limited number of free tickets to the new IMAX film, "Fighter Pilot: Operation Red Flag" throughout the day. Admission to the 10:30 a.m. showing will be free.

Performances by Northern Virginia high school bands, prize giveaways, book signings, stories for children and free birthday cake will also be part of the festivities. A behind-the-scenes presentation by restoration specialists will give a preview of the center's next phase: the building of a restoration facility that allows visitors to watch the process.