Today marks when NASA’s Glenn Research Center was founded in 1942; however, this agency has worn many names with similar hats over the years. Originally, the Aircraft Engine Research Laboratory was instituted as part of the National Advisory Committee of Aeronautics (NACA). It was renamed the Flight Propulsion Research Laboratory in 1947, the Lewis Flight Propulsion Laboratory in 1948 (paying homage to George W. Lewis, the head of NACA from 1919-1947), and in 1958 it became the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Lewis Research Center.
It was in 1999 that astronaut John Glenn, the first American to orbit the Earth, felt the nod of honor when it was dubbed the NASA John H. Glenn Research Center, or the Glenn Research Center (GRC) for short. Side note: I’ll elaborate more on Mr. Glenn (and his wife!) in an upcoming post next month when we celebrate the historical day in 1962 when he did his damn thang out in orbit.
GRC is one of ten major NASA field centers and is located near the international airport in Cleveland, Ohio. According to NASA, the wider primary objective of the center is to develop science and technology for use in aeronautics and space. Plum Brook Station is a 6,400-acre multi-facility piece of that puzzle; and can be found approximately 50 miles/80 kilometers away from the main campus in order to allow for the safety of large-scale testing. Fun Fact: One of the Plum Brook facilities has the capabilities of simulating a space environment!
Shout out to Dr. Marla E. Perez-Davis, who is the acting director of GRC. She is in charge of the 3,000 or so scientists, engineers, technicians, administrative and support staff that keep the agency operating. Some of the things that folks are working on at GRC include reducing energy consumption, noise, emissions and cost of travel; improving air traffic management and communications for satellites, spacecrafts and the like; developing capabilities for deep-space missions; studying and improving upon solar power options; constructing materials intended for extreme environments; and delving further into biomedical technologies that will improve quality of health and experience for astronauts.
As always, I’m in awe at how rad NASA is and, of course, how cool it is that we get to share our immense love of all things space-related with you – which is pretty darn important work, too! Thanks, GRC peeps, and thanks to all of you!