WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — President Barack Obama has signed HR 667, the congressional resolution that redesignates NASA’s Hugh L. Dryden Flight Research Center as the Neil A. Armstrong Flight Research Center, into law. The resolution also names Dryden’s Western Aeronautical Test Range as the Hugh L. Dryden Aeronautical Test Range. Both Hugh Dryden and Neil Armstrong are aerospace pioneers whose contributions are historic to NASA and the nation as a whole. NASA is developing a timeline to implement the name change.
Armstrong, who died in 2012, became the first human to set foot on another world during his historic Apollo 11 moonwalk on July 20, 1969. Armstrong’s words “That’s one small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind,” spoken as he stepped onto the lunar surface, instantly became a part of history.
Armstrong joined the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), NASA’s predecessor, in 1955. He served as an aeronautical research scientist and then as a pilot at the High-Speed Flight Station (later to become Dryden), before becoming an astronaut in 1962. Armstrong racked up over 2,450 flying hours, serving as a project pilot on several test planes, including the X-15 rocket plane.
Dr. Hugh L. Dryden was one of America’s most prominent aeronautical engineers and was serving as NASA’s deputy administrator at the time of his death in 1965.
In 1920, Dryden was named to head the National Bureau of Standards’ aerodynamics section, where he studied air pressures on everything from fan and propeller blades to buildings. He joined the NACA in 1931, and by 1949 he had become the first person to hold the new position of Director of the NACA.
Dryden helped shape policy that led to development of the high-speed research program and its record-setting X-15 rocket aircraft. Dryden’s leadership was evident in establishing vertical- and short-takeoff-and-landing aircraft programs, and he sought solutions to the problem of atmospheric re-entry for piloted spacecraft and ballistic missiles. Dryden was also instrumental in the development of the Unitary Wind Tunnel Plan, which saved millions of dollars by avoiding facility duplication.
On Oct. 1, 1958, the NACA became the nucleus of the new National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and Dryden was appointed its first deputy administrator.