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Neil A. Armstrong Flight Research Center and Hugh L. Dryden Aeronautical Test Range Designation Act

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Ms. EDWARDS. Madam Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Madam Speaker, all Americans can recite those famous words uttered by Neil Armstrong 43 years ago as he became the first human to walk on the Moon. Those words, as all Americans know were, ``That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.''

In an effort to recognize that great man, H.R. 6612 has been offered to redesignate the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Dryden Flight Research Center as the Neil A. Armstrong Flight Research Center. The bill would also rename the Western Aeronautical Test Range as the Hugh L. Dryden Aeronautical Test Range.

While I plan to support it, this is a bill that is a bit unfortunate since it honors one aerospace pioneer by stripping away the honor previously extended to another worthy pioneer. Both are worthy of recognition. Their accomplishments at NASA and for the Nation are without parallel.

Dr. Hugh Latimer Dryden was director of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics from 1947 until the creation of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and was named deputy administrator of the

new aerospace agency when it was created in response to the Sputnik crisis.

Dr. Dryden made numerous technical contributions to research in high-speed aerodynamics, fluid mechanics, and acoustics, and published more than 100 technical papers and articles in professional journals. NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center in Edwards, California, was named in honor of him on March 26, 1976. The center is NASA's premier site for aeronautical flight research.

Neil Armstrong joined NACA, the advisory committee, in 1955 following his service as a naval aviator. Over the next 17 years, he was an engineer, test pilot, astronaut, and administrator for the committee and its successor agency, NASA.

As a research pilot, he flew over 200 different models of aircraft, such as the storied X-15. He transferred to astronaut status in 1962, and was command pilot for the Gemini VIII mission when he performed the first successful docking of two vehicles in space. As spacecraft commander for Apollo 11, the first manned lunar landing mission, Neil Armstrong inspired millions around the world. He inspired me. And he passed away just this past August.

Madam Speaker, it's clear that Neil Armstrong never sought the honor of having a NASA center named after him while he was alive. And the truth is, his name is going to live long throughout history whether or not we ever name anything for him. I expect that today we will approve this legislation, and that's fine. But I hope that all the Members who vote to honor him today will remember his testimony before the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee. I know that our chairman, Mr. Hall, will remember that during that testimony he argued eloquently for the critical importance of giving NASA a sustainable future and a human exploration program that can once again inspire our children and humanity around the world.

It seems rather extraordinary that even as we're honoring our hero, Neil Armstrong, that we face a situation where NASA's budget would be decimated, gutting the very programs that Neil Armstrong felt so passionately about. And if the same Members who vote to honor him today will commit to working in the coming months and years for those exploration goals, to those heights to which he devoted the last years of his life, then we will have truly honored Neil Armstrong in an enduring and meaningful way.

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Ms. EDWARDS. Madam Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

It seems so fitting that we're here today to recognize Neil Armstrong. And I want to thank Mr. Hall both for his leadership of our Science Committee and the opportunity that we've had to work together. He is a good friend. I look forward to working with our new chairman, Mr. Smith, in the next Congress.

And it seems that we will have an opportunity to work on the things that Neil Armstrong believed in and felt so passionately about: about making sure that the United States remains at the top of the leader board when it comes to space exploration; making certain that, as he expressed in our committee, NASA remains at the forefront of our technology development, of our research, of our capacity.

There are few of us who will get to see or to know what Neil Armstrong saw and knew. There are few of us, though we want to, who will be able to see the universe in the kind of way that Neil Armstrong did. But what we do know is that we have the ability here in this Congress and in future Congresses to actually preserve what it is that we do in space and how we use technology, and that we build on the great promise of Hugh Dryden and Neil Armstrong and our great capacity as a Nation for research and development and technology.

I know that our leaders will be committed to preserving the names of these great heroes in the work that we do in the future, for our children and for generations to come.

It also seems very fitting that in honoring Neil Armstrong--and I will just say personally, there are few opportunities here in the Congress where you feel like you really get to both touch the past and look to the future, and for me, that came in just being able to meet and to talk with Neil Armstrong when he came before our committee, Mr. Chairman.

And I will say, having watched all of those missions as a little girl sitting in front of a black-and-white television, in a classroom, seeing the promise and capacity of our universe and our scientific endeavors and creation, that Neil Armstrong was at the center of that. And so I am pleased that we're able to honor him today, but I hope that we can honor him and his legacy in the future with the work that we do to preserve the great work that's done at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration for all of our future generations.

To the chairman, I know that, to Chairman Hall, Neil Armstrong was a special friend of his as well and quite an inspiration, but an inspiration for generations. And so it gives me great pleasure to be able to present H.R. 6612 in renaming the Dryden Research Center as the Neil A. Armstrong Center, and I look forward to continuing to support the great work of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

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