SP-4402 Origins of NASA Names

 

VI

NASA INSTALLATIONS

 


[
136]

Location map of NASA facilities.

Location map of NASA facilities.

 

[137] The 11 NASA "field installations" and the contractor-operated Jet Propulsion Laboratory each had a unique history. Many were named for prominent Americans.

Five of the installations were existing facilities of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), which in October 1958 became the nucleus of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. These were Ames Research Center, Flight Research Center, Langley Research Center, Lewis Research Center, and Wallops Flight Center.

Three installations-Goddard Space Flight Center, Kennedy Space Center, and Marshall Space Flight Center-and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory began their association with NASA as transfers from the U.S. military space program.

Two installations were created to fill special needs of the U.S. civilian space program. Electronics Research Center joined the research Centers until 1969 and Manned Spacecraft Center, later renamed Johnson Space Center, was added to the manned spaceflight Centers. National Space Technology Laboratories, designated a permanent field installation in 1974, grew out of cooperative activities with other agencies in earth resources and environmental research at an MSFC test facility.

 


[
138]

Aerial view of Ames Research Center

 

.

Dr. Joseph S. Ames

Aerial view of Ames Research Center, above. Dr. Joseph S. Ames at left.

 


 

[139] AMES RESEARCH CENTER (ARC). Congress on 9 August 1939 authorized the construction of a second National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) laboratory for urgent research in aircraft structures, as World War II began. Ground was broken for the laboratory at Moffett Field, California, 14 September 1939. The NACA facility began operations as the Moffett Field Laboratory in early 1941.1

NACA named the facility "Ames Aeronautical Laboratory" in 1944 in honor of Dr. Joseph S. Ames, leading aerodynamicist and former president of Johns Hopkins University, one of the first NACA members in 1915 and serving to 1939. He was NACA Chairman from 1927 to 1939. When Dr. Ames retired as NACA Chairman, he was cited by President Roosevelt for his "inspiring leadership in the development of new research facilities and in the orderly prosecution of comprehensive research programs."2

On 1 October 1958, as a facility of the NACA, the laboratory became part of the new National Aeronautics and Space Administration and was renamed "Ames Research Center."3

Mission responsibilities of ARC focused on basic and applied research in the physical and life sciences for aeronautics and space flight. The Center managed the Pioneer and Biosatellite space projects, as well as providing scientific experiments for other missions. It contributed to development of experimental tilt-wing and fan-in-wing aircraft and solutions to high-speed atmosphere entry problems.

 

ELECTRONICS RESEARCH CENTER (ERC). NASA's Electronics Research Center was formally activated 1 September 1964 in Cambridge,....

 


Model of Electronics Research Center.

Model of Electronics Research Center.

 

[140] ....Massachusetts. ERC absorbed the NASA North Eastern Office, established 14 August 1962 to administer contracts and act as liaison with industry in northeastern states.1 The name "Electronics Research Center" reflected the installation's mission responsibility. As the focal point of nationwide research in this field, the Center organized, sponsored, and conducted comprehensive programs of basic and applied research in space and aeronautical electronics.

On 29 December 1969, NASA announced its decision to close ERC because of budget reductions. The facility was transferred to the Department of Transportation for use in research and development efforts and was renamed the Transportation Development Center.2

 

FLIGHT RESEARCH CENTER (FRC). On 30 September 1946, 13 engineers, instrument technicians, and technical observers were sent on temporary duty from the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics' Langley Laboratory to assist in the rocket-powered X-l flight-research program at the Air Force's Muroc, California, test facility. Called the "NACA Muroc Flight Test Unit," this group was the beginning of what was to become the Flight Research Center.1 In 1949 NACA redesignated the unit-which in 1947 had been permanently assigned at Muroc-the "High Speed Flight Research Station." Muroc Air Force Base itself became Edwards Air Force Base after February 1950. In 1954 the NACA unit moved into new, permanent facilities on 175 acres leased from the Air Force at Edwards and its name was changed to "High Speed Flight Station."2

When the National Aeronautics and Space Administration was formed 1 October 1958, the High Speed Flight Station-as a facility of the NACA-became part of NASA. NASA renamed it "Flight Research Center" 27 September 1959,* consistent with its mission responsibilities.3 Research at the Center included investigation of all phases of aeronautical flight, reentry and landing for space flight, and problems of manned flight within and beyond the atmosphere. It was best known for its conduct of the X-15 rocket aircraft flight research program, followed by X-24 lifting-body research, supercritical wing tests, and research into other new aeronautical development.

 


[
141]

Aerial view of Flight Research Center

.

Aerial view of Flight Research Center, above, and a modified X-15 experimental aircraft with external fuel tanks.

.

 

a modified X-15 experimental aircraft with external fuel tanks

 


[
142]

Dr. Robert H. Goddard at work in his shop at Roswell, New Mexico, October 1953 (courtesy of Mrs. Robert H. Goddard.)

Dr. Robert H. Goddard at work in his shop at Roswell, New Mexico, October 1953 (courtesy of Mrs. Robert H. Goddard.)

 

GODDARD SPACE FLIGHT CENTER (GSFC). In August 1958, before NASA officially opened for business, Congress authorized construction of a NASA "space projects center" in the "vicinity of Washington, D. C."1 The site selected was in Maryland on land then part of the Department of Agriculture's Beltsville Agricultural Research Center. On 15 January 1959, NASA designated four divisions of NASA Headquarters the "Beltsville Space Center. " Project Vanguard personnel, transferred by Executive Order of the President from the Naval Research Laboratory to NASA in December 1958, formed the nucleus of three of the four divisions and hence of the Center.2 On 1 May 1959, NASA renamed the facility "Goddard Space....

 


[
143]

Aerial view of Goddard Flight Research Center.

Aerial view of Goddard Flight Research Center.

 

....Flight Center" in honor of the father of modern rocketry, Dr. Robert H. Goddard (1882-1945).3 Rocket theorist as well as practical inventor, Dr. Goddard's list of "firsts" in rocketry included the first launch of a liquid-propellant rocket March 1926.4

Goddard Space Flight Center was responsible for unmanned spacecraft and sounding rocket experiments in basic and applied research; it operated the worldwide Space Tracking and Data Acquisition Network (STADAN), which later became Spaceflight Tracking and Data Network (STDN); and it managed development and launch of the Thor-Delta launch vehicle.

GODDARD INSTITUTE FOR SPACE STUDIES (GISS). A center for theoretical research was established in 1961 as the New York office of the Theoretical Division of Goddard Space Flight Center. In July 1962 it was separated organizationally from the Theoretical Division and renamed "Goddard Institute for Space Studies."5 It worked closely with academic scientists in the New York area.

 

JET PROPULSION LABORATORY (JPL). Students at the Guggenheim Aeronautical Laboratory of the California Institute of Technology (GALCIT) directed by Dr. Theodore von Kármán, in 1936 began design....

 


[
144]

Jet Propulsion Laboratory from the air.

Jet Propulsion Laboratory from the air.

 

...and experimental work with liquid-propellant rocket engines.1 During World War II the GALCIT Rocket Research Project developed solid- and liquid-propellant units to assist the takeoff of heavily loaded aircraft and began work on high-altitude rockets. Reorganized in November 1944 under the name "Jet Propulsion Laboratory," the facility continued postwar research and development on tactical guided missiles, aerodynamics, and broad supporting technology for U. S. Army Ordnance.2

JPL participated with the Army Ballistic Missile Agency in the development and operation of the first U.S. satellite, Explorer 1, the succeeding Explorer missions, and the Pioneer 3 and 4 lunar probes. On 3 December 1958, shortly after NASA came into existence, the functions and facilities of JPL were transferred from the U.S. Army to NASA.3 Operating in Government-owned facilities, JPL remained a laboratory of Caltech under contract to NASA.** It has managed projects in NASA's unmanned lunar...

 


[
145]

The 64-meter Goldstone antenna of the Deep Space Network.

The 64-meter Goldstone antenna of the Deep Space Network.

 

....and planetary exploration program such as Ranger, Surveyor, and the Mariner series, conducted supporting research, and founded and operated the worldwide Deep Space Network (DSN) for communication with lunar and planetary spacecraft.

 


[
146]

Johnson Space Center seen from the air in the top photo, with the Mission Operations Control Room on the third day of the Apollo 8 lunar orbit mission. The television monitors shows the earth telecast from 283 000 kilometers away [middle]. President Lyndon B. Johnson at left [bottom].

Johnson Space Center seen from the air in the top photo, with the Mission Operations Control Room on the third day of the Apollo 8 lunar orbit mission. The television monitors shows the earth telecast from 283 000 kilometers away [middle]. President Lyndon B. Johnson at left [bottom].

 

[147] JOHNSON SPACE CENTER (JSC). On 3 January 1961 NASA's Space Task Group-an autonomous subdivision of Goddard Space Flight Center that managed Project Mercury and was housed at Langley Research Center-was made an independent NASA field installation. Following congressional endorsement of President Kennedy's decision to accelerate the U.S. manned spaceflight program, Congress in August 1961 appropriated funds for a new center for manned space flight. On 9 September 1961 NASA announced the "Manned Spacecraft Center" (MSC) would be built at Clear Lake, near Houston, Texas,1 and on 1 November 1961 Space Task Group personnel were told that "the Space Task Group is officially redesignated the Manned Spacecraft Center."2

Known as Manned Spacecraft Center for 11 1/2 years, the Center was responsible for design, development, and testing of manned spacecraft; selection and training of astronauts; and operation of manned space flights-including the Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, and Skylab programs and the U.S.-U.S.S.R. Apollo-Soyuz Test Project. It was lead Center for management of the Space Shuttle program.

Following the 22 January 1973 death of former President Lyndon B. Johnson, leader of support for the U.S. space program from its earliest beginnings, Senator Lloyd M. Bentsen (D-Tex.) proposed that MSC be renamed the "Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center." Senator Robert C. Byrd (D-W. Va.) introduced Senate Joint Resolution 37 on Senator Bentsen's behalf 26 January and House joint resolutions were introduced in the next few days.3 Support from NASA Headquarters and Manned Spacecraft Center was immediate.4 The Senate and House acted 6 and 7 February and President Nixon signed the resolution 17 February 1973.5

As Senator, Johnson had drafted and helped enact legislation that created NASA. As Vice President he had chaired the National Aeronautics and Space Council during the early years of the space program, when the decision was made to place a man on the moon. As President he continued strong support.6

Signing the resolution renaming MSC, President Nixon said, "Lyndon Johnson drew America up closer to the stars, and before he died he saw us reach the moon-the first great platform along the way."7

WHITE SANDS TEST FACILITY. In June 1962, Manned Spacecraft Center reached an operating agreement with the U.S. Army's White Sands Missile Range for the establishment of an Apollo propulsion development facility and NASA announced selection of the site.8 The facility was called "White Sands Operations." NASA renamed the facility the "White Sands Test....

 


[
148]

A Saturn V test vehicle is transported from the Kennedy Space Center's Vehicle Assembly Building toward Launch Complex 39.

A Saturn V test vehicle is transported from the Kennedy Space Center's Vehicle Assembly Building toward Launch Complex 39.

 

President John F. Kennedy.

President John F. Kennedy.

 

[149] ....Facility" 25 June 1965.9 White Sands was notable in U.S. rocket history as the site for test-firing the German V-2 rockets after World War II.

 

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER (KSC). Formally named "John F. Kennedy Space Center, NASA," the installation at Cape Canaveral (named Cape Kennedy 1963-1973) evolved through a series of organizational changes and redesignations.

In 1951 the Experimental Missiles Firing Branch of the Army Ordnance Guided Missile Center in Huntsville, Alabama, was established to supervise test flights of the U.S. Army's Redstone intermediate-range ballistic missile at the Long Range Proving Ground at Cape Canaveral, Florida. In January 1953, when its responsibilities were expanded, the Army facility was renamed "Missile Firing Laboratory."1

On 1 July 1960 the Missile Firing Laboratory became part of NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC)-the nucleus of which was the Laboratory's parent organization at Huntsville-and it was absorbed organizationally into MSFC's Launch Operations Directorate.2 The other basic element of the Launch Operations Directorate was a NASA unit known as "AMROO" (Atlantic Missile Range Operations Office). AMROO had functioned as NASA's liaison organization with the military-operated Atlantic Missile Range (formerly Long Range Proving Ground) at Cape Canaveral. Together, the Missile Firing Laboratory and AMROO formed MSFC's Launch Operations Directorate.3

The Launch Operations Directorate was discontinued as a component of MSFC on 7 March 1962 and Launch Operations Center was established as a separate NASA field installation, officially activated 1 July 1962.4 On 29 November 1963, a week after the death of President John F. Kennedy, President Lyndon B. Johnson renamed the Launch Operations Center the "John F. Kennedy Space Center," saying that President Kennedy had "lighted the imagination of our people when he set the moon as our target and man as the means to reach it" and that the Center was a "symbol of our country's peaceful assault on space."5

Adjacent to Cape Canaveral was the 324-square-kilometer Merritt Island. In the autumn of 1961 NASA had selected it for launches in the Apollo manned lunar program.6 On 17 January 1963 the Launch Operations Center became the executive agent for management and operation of the "Merritt Island Launch Area" (usually called "MILA").7 Headquarters of Kennedy Space Center moved to new facilities on Merritt Island 26 July 1965, and NASA discontinued the "MILA" designation, calling the entire NASA complex the Kennedy Space Center.8 The Center was responsible for overall NASA launch operations at the Eastern Test Range (formerly Atlantic [150] Missile Range), Western Test Range, and KSC itself, including launches of satellites, probes, manned space missions, and the Space Shuttle.

NASA DAYTONA BEACH OPERATIONS. The Daytona Beach facility was established at the General Electric Company in Daytona Beach, Florida, 23 June 1963 as liaison between NASA and GE; it was an integral part of the Launch Operations Center (later Kennedy Space Center).9

WESTERN TEST RANGE OPERATIONS DIVISION. The WTR facility originated 27 October 1960, when NASA established the Test Support Office at the Pacific Missile Range (PMR) for liaison between NASA and the military-operated PMR. The Test Support Office came under the jurisdiction of MSFC's Launch Operations Directorate. NASA discontinued the Test Support Office 7 March 1962 and established the Pacific Launch Operations Office at PMR as an independent field installation.10 On 1 October 1965 the Pacific Launch Operations Office and the Launch Operations Division of Goddard Space Flight Center at the Western Test Range (formerly Pacific Missile Range) were combined to form the Western Test Range Operations Division of KSC.11

 

LANGLEY RESEARCH CENTER (LaRC). Construction of NACA's first field station began at Langley Field near Hampton, Virginia, in 1917. In April 1920, President Wilson concurred with NACA's suggestion that the facility be named "Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory" in honor of Dr. Samuel P. Langley (1834-1906).1 Dr. Langley was the third Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, "inventor, brilliantly lucid writer and lecturer on science, original investigator in astrophysics and especially of the physics of the sun, pioneer in aerodynamics." He was "all this and more." His persistent investigation of mechanical flight led to successful flights by his steam-powered, heavier-than-air "aerodromes" in 1896; on 6 May his model made two flights, each close to 1 kilometer long, and on 28 November his aerodrome achieved a flight of more than 1.2 kilometers.2

The facility was dedicated 11 July 1920, marking "the real beginning of NACA's own program of aeronautical research, conducted by its own staff in its own facilities."3 It was the only NACA laboratory until 1940. On 1 October 1958 the laboratory, as a NACA facility, became a component of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and was renamed "Langley Research Center."4

The Center conducted basic research in a variety of fields for aeronautical and space flight and had management responsibility for the Lunar Orbiter and Viking projects and the Scout launch vehicles. The supercritical wing, an improved airfoil, was developed at Langley.

 


[
151]

Facilities of Langley Research Center.

Facilities of Langley Research Center.

 

Samuel P. Langley (courtesy Smithsonian Institution).

Samuel P. Langley (courtesy Smithsonian Institution).


[
152]

Lewis Research Center.

Lewis Research Center.

 

LEWIS RESEARCH CENTER (LeRC). Congress authorized a flight-propulsion laboratory for NACA 26 June 1940, and in 1942 the new laboratory began operations adjacent to the Cleveland, Ohio, Municipal Airport.1 It was known as the "Aircraft Engine Research Laboratory."2 On 28 September 1948 NACA renamed it "Lewis Flight Propulsion Laboratory" in honor of Dr. George W. Lewis (1882-1948). Dr. Lewis not only was a leading aeronautical engineer, whose work in flight research has been termed "epochal contributions to aeronautics,"3 but also made his mark as an administrator, serving as NACA's Director of Aeronautical Research from 1919 to 1947. He was responsible for the planning and building of the new flight-propulsion laboratory which was later to bear his name.4

Upon the formation of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration 1 October 1958, the facility became "Lewis Research Center."5 The Center's research and development responsibilities concentrated chiefly on advanced propulsion and space power systems. It had management responsibilities for the Agena and Centaur launch vehicle stages.

 


[
153]

Dr. George W. Lewis.

Dr. George W. Lewis.

 

PLUM BROOK STATION. On Lake Erie near Sandusky, Ohio, Lewis Research Center's Plum Brook Station was a test facility for aerospace propulsion research and development. The site, formerly a U. S. Army Ordnance plant, was acquired from the Army through a gradual process beginning in 1956 and completed in 1963. The name "Plum Brook Station" derived from the Army's name of the former ordnance facility, "Plum Brook Ordnance Works," after a small stream running through the site.6 It had a nuclear research reactor and a wide range of propulsion test facilities.

Nuclear propulsion program cutbacks to adjust to NASA budget reductions in 1973 brought a decision to phase down most of the Plum Brook facilities. The Space Power Facility-one of the world's largest space environment simulation chambers, equipped with a solar simulation system, instrumentation, and data-acquisition facilities-was kept in operation for use by other Government agencies. The Air Force, Navy, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and Energy Research and Development Administration indicated possible interest in using the facilities.

By the end of June 1974, agencies already using the facilities at the station included the Army, Ohio National Guard, and Department of the Interior. Instrumentation for a large experimental wind generator was being installed in the cooperative NASA and National Science Foundation program to study full-scale wind-driven energy devices.7

 


[
154]

Three-building headquarters complex of Marshall Space Flight Center.

Three-building headquarters complex of Marshall Space Flight Center.

 

MARSHALL SPACE FLIGHT CENTER (MSFC). In April 1950 the U.S Army established its team of rocket specialists headed by Dr. Wernher von Braun as the Ordnance Guided Missile Center at Redstone Arsenal, Huntsville, Alabama. This Center was the origin of what eventually became the George C. Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC). On 1 February 1956 the Army Ballistic Missile Agency (ABMA) was formed at Redstone Arsenal ABMA was a merger and expansion of existing agencies there; its team of scientists formed the nucleus of the Development Operations Division.1

NASA came into existence on 1 October 1958. Early in 1960 President Eisenhower submitted a request to Congress for the transfer of ABMA's space missions to NASA, including certain facilities and personnel, chiefly the Development Operations Division. The transfer became effective 14 March 1960 and NASA set up its "Huntsville Facility" in preparation for formal establishment of the field center later that year.2 The next day, 15 March, President Eisenhower proclaimed the NASA facility would be called George C. Marshall Space Flight Center."3 The name honored George C. Marshall, General of the Army, who was Chief of Staff during World War [155] II, Secretary of State 1948-1949, and author of the Marshall Plan. General Marshall was the only professional soldier to receive the Nobel Peace Prize, awarded to him in 1954.

MSFC officially began operation with the formal mass transfer of personnel and facilities from ABMA 1 July 1960.4 The Center's primary mission responsibility was development of the Saturn family of launch vehicles, used in the Apollo manned lunar-landing program, in the Skylab experimental space station program, and in the U.S.-U.S.S.R. Apollo-Soyuz Test Project. MSFC also held responsibility for development of the Skylab Orbital Workshop and Apollo Telescope Mount, as well as integration of the Skylab cluster of components. It was responsible for three major elements of the Space Shuttle: the solid-fueled rocket booster, the Space Shuttle main engine, and the external tank.

MICHOUD ASSEMBLY FACILITY. On 7 September 1961 NASA selected the Government-owned, then-unused Michoud Ordnance Plant at Michoud, Louisiana, as the site for industrial production of Saturn launch vehicle stages under the overall direction of Marshall Space Flight Center. NASA called the site "Michoud Operations."5 On 1 July 1965 Michoud Operations was redesignated "Michoud Assembly Facility" to "better reflect the mission" of the facility.6

Following construction of the first stages of the Saturn IB and Saturn V launch vehicles for Apollo, Skylab, and ASTP missions. Michoud was....

 


Gen. George C. Marshall receives the 1953 Nobel Peace Prize from Norwegian Nobel Prize Committee President Gunnar Jahn at Oslo University, 10 December 1953.

Gen. George C. Marshall receives the 1953 Nobel Peace Prize from Norwegian Nobel Prize Committee President Gunnar Jahn at Oslo University, 10 December 1953.


[
156]

Final touches are added to engines of the first flight Saturn V's S-IC stage, assembled at Michaoud Assembly Facility.

Final touches are added to engines of the first flight Saturn V's S-IC stage, assembled at Michoud Assembly Facility.

 

....selected in 1972 as the site for the manufacture and final assembly of the Space Shuttle's external propellant tanks.

MISSISSIPPI TEST FACILITY (MTF). NASA announced 25 October 1961 it had selected southwestern Mississippi as the site for a large booster (Saturn) test facility under the direction of MSFC. Pending official naming of the site,*** NASA encouraged use of "Mississippi Test Facility," which seemed to have been already in informal use. On 18 December 1961 the name Mississippi Test Operations was officially adopted, but the site was still widely called "Mississippi Test Facility," particularly by Headquarters and MSFC offices concerned in the installation's development.7 On 1 July 1965 MSFC announced the official redesignation, "Mississippi Test Facility."8 The change was said to "reflect the mission of the facility" better.****

MTF test stands were put into standby status 9 November 1970, after more than four years and the test-firing of 13 S-IC first stages and 15 S-II second stages of the Saturn V.9 With the close of Saturn production and the approaching end of the Apollo program, NASA had established an Earth [157] Resources Laboratory at MTF in September 1970, stressing applications of remote-sensing data from aircraft and satellites. A number of other Government agencies, at NASA invitation, moved research activities related to resources and the environment to MTF to take advantage of its facilities.10 And on 1 March 1971 NASA announced that MTF had also been selected for sea-level testing of the Space Shuttle's main engine.11

On 14 June 1974 Mississippi Test Facility was renamed "National Space Technology Laboratories" and became a permanent NASA field installation reporting directly to NASA Headquarters, "because of the growing importance of the activities at NSTL . . . and of the agencies taking advantage of NSTL capabilities."12 (See National Space Technological Laboratories.)

 

NATIONAL SPACE TECHNOLOGY LABORATORIES (NSTL). Established as an independent NASA field installation 14 June 1974,1 the National Space Technology Laboratories' varied activities had their beginnings in the Mississippi Test Facility (MTF), formed in 1961 as part of Marshall Space Flight Center to test Saturn launch vehicle stages (see Mississippi Test Facility). The facility at Bay St. Louis in Hancock County, Mississippi, tested the....

 


Test stand A-1 at National Space Technology Laboratories was modified for testing the Space Shuttle main engine.

Test stand A-1 at National Space Technology Laboratories was modified for testing the Space Shuttle main engine.

 

[158] ...Saturn V first and second stages throughout that program, qualifying them for the Apollo and Skylab missions. With the shift of emphasis in the national space program from manned exploration to practical applications after the successful Apollo 11 landing on the moon 20 July 1969, and as the last lunar exploration missions were made 1970-1972, consideration was given to other uses for the MTF plant. Increasing awareness of the importance of the earth's natural resources and environment in those years-and sharpening focus on energy shortages in 1973-suggested that technical facilities available at MTF might be put to use in meeting some of these MTF test stands were put on standby as of 9 November 1970.2 NASA had already established an Earth Resources Laboratory at the installation in September 1970 and had invited other Government agencies to use facilities on the 570-square-kilometer site for research.3 In 1971 MTF was also selected for development testing of the main engine for NASA's Space Shuttle, designed as a reusable, economical space transportation system for the 1980s.4

By June 1974 a number of other agencies had established one or more activities at NSTL: the Department of Commerce, Department of the Interior, Department of Transportation, Department of the Army, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the State of Mississippi, and some other state and university elements from Mississippi and Louisiana. Research and technical activities were primarily related to earth resources and the environment-NASA's Earth Resources Laboratory complemented programs at Goddard Space Flight and Johnson Space Centers and emphasized applications of data gathered by remote sensing from aircraft and satellites.5

NASA Administrator James C. Fletcher announced the new name and status of National Space Technology Laboratories 14 June 1974, saying that the success of the experiment in collocating "mutually supporting activities" had led him to decide that "NSTL will have a permanent role in NASA's space applications and technology programs." NASA would encourage location at NSTL of other Government activities that could use and contribute to the capabilities there.6

 

WALLOPS FLIGHT CENTER (WFC). The National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) established a test-launching facility for its Langley Laboratory on Wallops Island, Virginia, 7 May 1945. A unit of Langley, it was named the "Auxiliary Flight Research Station." On 10 June 1946, the unit became a division of Langley's Research Department and was named "Pilotless....


[
159]

Aerial view of Wallops Flight Center main base.

Aerial view of Wallops Flight Center main base.

 

....Aircraft Research Division (PARD)." The phrase "pilotless aircraft" was then used by the Navy's Bureau of Aeronautics and the Army Air Forces to denote all guided missiles. PARD was formally organized 11 August 1946, with four sections; the Wallops facility was placed under PARD's Operations Section and named "Pilotless Aircraft Research Station." Its employees called the station simply "Wallops."1

When the National Aeronautics and Space Administration absorbed NACA in 1958, NASA continued the name long in popular use, "Wallops Station" (WS). WS first was carried on organization charts as coming under the proposed Space Flight Research Center, but on 1 May 1959 the station became an independent field installation.2

The island-and hence the installation (which in July 1959 acquired additional property on the mainland, known as Wallops Main Base3)-was named for the 17th century surveyor John Wallop, who began patenting land on Virginia's eastern shore in the 1660s. In 1672 he received a Crown Patent of the 13-square-kilometer island from King Charles II, and in his will John Wallop referred to "my island formerly called Keeckotank." (It was also known as Accocomoson or Occocomoson Island.) It has borne the name "Wallops Island" for more than 260 years.4

Effective 26 April 1974, Wallops Station was renamed "Wallops Flight Center" as "more descriptive of the mission and operations" of the installation. [160] The only rocket flight-test range owned and operated by NASA, Wallops launched Scout boosters and sounding rocket experiments with instrumentation developed by scientists and engineers throughout the United States and the world. By the spring of 1974 more than 8000 launchings had taken place from WFC, including the orbiting of 17 satellites. Work also included advanced aeronautical research and participation in the Chesapeake Bay Ecological Test Program, with remote sensing of the area by aircraft and satellite.5

 


* On 8 January 1976, NASA announced that FRC was renamed "Hugh L. Dryden Flight Research Center" in "recognition of the unique contributions" of Dr. Dryden, aeronautical research pioneer and first NASA Deputy Administrator. Dr. Dryden had been Director of NACA from May 1947 until NASA was established in October 1958; he served as NASA Deputy Administrator from 1958 to his death in December 1965. He was internationally recognized for his work in fluid mechanics and boundary layer phenomena. (NASA, Special Announcement, 8 Jan. 1956; NASA, News Release 76-7.)

** Public Law 92-520, signed 21 October 1972, carried a rider changing the name of JPL to "H.Allen Smith Jet Propulsion Laboratory" effective 4 January 1973. The House Committee on Public Works had amended a bill of construction of a civic center as a memorial to President Dwight D. Eisenhower, adding a proposal to honor a number of members of Congress by renaming public works building after them, including Rep. H. Allen Smith (R-Calif.). Retiring Rep. Smith said he would request legislation to repeal the JPL name change, to avoid confusion, and Public Law 93-215, signed 28 December 1973, included an amendment restoring JPL's name. Jet Propulsion Laboratory never used the H. Allen Smith name. (U.S. Congress, House of Representatives, Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial Bicentennial Civic Center Act, House Rpt. 92-1410, 19 Sept. 1972 [Washington: 1972], pp.5,9; U.S. Public Law 92-520, 86 Stat. 1022, 21 Oct. 1972, p.4; Wall Street Journal, 24 Nov. 1972; Pasadena, Calif., Star-News, 18 Dec. 1972; Gerald J. Mossinghof, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Legislative Affairs, NASA, memorandum for the record, 15 Jan. 1973; Congressional Record-House, 8 Feb. 1973, p. H932, and 3 Dec. 1973, pp. H10468-H10469; General Services Administration, National Archives and Records Service, Office of the Federal Register, Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents, 10, No.1 [7 Jan. 1974], p.15.

*** For about a month there was no standardized designation and "Pearl River Test Site" was often used. See NASA, Circular 188.

**** Perhaps a more accurate reason would be that this was the name most widely used; the "Mississippi Test Operations" never had stuck.


previousindexnext