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

Floor Speech

Location: Unknown


Mr. SMITH of Texas. Madam Speaker, I thank the gentleman from Texas, the chairman of the Science, Space, and Technology Committee for yielding me time.

Madam Speaker, first I want to thank the gentleman from California, Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, for honoring both Neil Armstrong and NASA Deputy Administrator Hugh Dryden with this bill.

Not many people know the relationship between these two men. Hugh Dryden was the visionary behind NASA's X-15 rocket plane and the Apollo program, and Neil Armstrong was the one who actually flew the spacecraft that Dryden envisioned.

The X-15 rocket plane set many speed and altitude records in the early 1960s. Hugh Dryden was the engineer and program manager for that spacecraft, which Neil Armstrong flew seven times.

While everyone knows that Neil Armstrong was the first person to set foot on the Moon, not many people know Hugh Dryden's role. The Soviets launched the first satellite, Sputnik, in 1957, and Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first man in space in April 1961.

President John F. Kennedy was looking for a way to demonstrate American ingenuity and technical superiority over the Soviet Union, so he convened the National Space Council and asked for their advice on the best way for America to respond to the Soviets' string of firsts in space exploration. Hugh Dryden was the person in that meeting who recommended to the President that the goal of putting a person on the Moon within 10 years was achievable and something the American people could rally behind. The rest is history. President Kennedy grabbed Hugh Dryden's idea and addressed a joint session of Congress the very next month.

The Apollo program was the brainchild of Hugh Dryden, and Neil Armstrong turned that dream into reality by making that ``one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind'' on another world almost 240,000 miles away. Hugh Dryden was not able to see his dream become reality, as he died in 1965, and, unfortunately, Neil Armstrong passed away last August.

It is important for us to honor both men's legacies by naming the flight research center after Neil Armstrong and the surrounding test range after Hugh Dryden. With this bill, we reaffirm that America is filled with dreamers like Hugh Dryden and doers like Neil Armstrong, who, working together, can shoot for the Moon.

Again, Madam Speaker, I want to thank Congressman McCarthy for honoring their legacy, which reminds us that America always needs to think about new frontiers.


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