This hangar is the first building visitors see at NASA Glenn Research Center's Lewis Field. Photo by Grant Segall.
BROOK PARK, Ohio — Dignitaries re-enacted NASA Glenn Research Center's groundbreaking Monday with much softer ground than 75 years ago.
Under sunny skies and temperatures near 45 degrees Fahrenheit, Director Jim Free and other dignitaries filled in for their counterparts from Jan. 23, 1941, wielding the original shovel and pick.
Speakers noted that 75 years is a diamond anniversary. "That's what we have in Cleveland," said Free, "a diamond of research and testing."
Anne Mills, NASA Glenn's history officer, said it takes two things to make a diamond: time and pressure. "We've had a steady stream of that here. We have been called on time and time again to do the impossible."
Speakers recounted Glenn's beginnings as the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics' Aircraft Engine Research Laboratory. They recounted its growth as a world leader in technology for space and earth, influencing commercial products as varied as car engines and detergents. They described its vital present and future developing solar propulsion and other key technologies for the Orion mission to Mars and beyond.
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden: "Here's to the next 75 yearsof NASA Glenn's incredible achievements and the future world they will help shape for us all."
The ceremony included a video message from the center's namesake, former astronaut and U.S. Senator John Glenn. He reminisced about fellow astronaut Scott Carpenter's famous words, "God Speed, John Glenn," and wished the center, "God speed and happy anniversary."
In another video, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said, "Here's to the next 75 years of NASA Glenn's incredible achievements and the future world they will help shape for us all."
Brook Park Mayor Tom Coyne said Free used to be Coyne's batboy in softball. He said Glenn was vital not just for its jobs but its breakthroughs.
Glenn has about 3,000 staffers and contract employees at its 350-acre Lewis Field in Brook Park and about 120 workers at its 6,400-acre Plum Brook testing station in Perkins Township, near Sandusky.
The groundbreaking kicked off a year-long celebration of the center's 75th. Future events include free open houses: May 21 and 22 at Lewis Field and June 11 and 12 at Plum Brook Station. The times have not yet been announced.
What's now NASA Glenn has tested air and space machines for 75 years. 1952 photo courtesy of NASA.
Senator John Glenn and his wife, Annie, rode in a ceremony in 1998, when NASA Lewis Research Center became NASA Glenn. The former astronaut delivered video greetings to NASA Glenn for its 75th anniversary kickoff today. Photo courtesy of NASA.
At NASA Glenn's 75th anniversary kickoff, Brook Park Mayor Tom Coyne said the center is vital to the town and the world. Photo by Grant Segall/The Plain Dealer.