On Senate Floor, Portman Urges Passage of Legislation to Rename NASA’s Plum Brook Station Test Facility After Neil Armstrong

November 21, 2019 | Press Releases

WASHINGTON, DC Today on the Senate floor, U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) urged his Senate colleagues to support his bipartisan legislation to rename NASA’s Plum Brook Station, the agency’s test facility in Sandusky, Ohio, after Neil Armstrong. Last week the Senate Commerce, Science & Transportation Committee approved the legislation that Portman and Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) introduced the legislation in September. Plum Brook is part of the NASA Glenn Research Center based in Cleveland, Ohio. It houses unique world-class facilities that conduct critical and innovative ground tests for the international aerospace community. The legislation now awaits action on the Senate floor.

In July, in advance of the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, Senators Portman and Brown announced their intention to rename the facility. Prior to the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, Portman paid tribute to his friend, Ohio-native Neil Armstrong in a video, as well as on the Senate floor. In August, Portman accompanied NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine in a visit to NASA’s Glenn Research Center at Lewis Field in Cleveland and Plum Brook Station in Sandusky to view progress on the agency’s Artemis Program -- its multi-year plan to return American astronauts to the Moon and eventually send manned missions to Mars.

A transcript of his remarks is below and a video can be found here.

“I want to thank my colleagues on the Senate Commerce Committee for approving legislation very recently to rename the NASA Plum Brook Station in Sandusky, Ohio after Ohio’s own and a true American hero, the late Neil Armstrong. I now of course urge that this legislation be taken up by the full Senate and we get it passed. There is an identical bill in the House and we hope to get both of them to the president for his signature very soon.

“NASA Plum Brook Station is a state-of-the-art testing facility. It’s near Sandusky, Ohio. It is a terrific facility that is doing a lot of the testing right now both for NASA and for some private-sector companies. It is part of the NASA Glenn complex that’s headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio. It is an impressive operation for a lot of reasons but the one that is most exciting right now is they are working on the Artemis Project. This of course is NASA’s plan to put astronauts back on the Moon by 2024, including the first woman to go to the moon. This mission will lay the groundwork for future expeditions for the next great leap in space flight, and that of course is a manned mission to Mars. It is exciting stuff and at Plum Brook they’re already testing critical components of the rocket engines scheduled to carry Artemis astronauts into space starting next year. Very soon they are going to be testing the spacecraft itself. It will arrive at Plum Brook, we hope in the next few weeks, where it is going to undergo about four months of testing.

“My colleague, Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown, and I introduced this resolution to rename the facility after Neil Armstrong this past summer and we did so on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing where of course Neil Armstrong became world famous as the first person to walk on the surface of the Moon. But Neil Armstrong was ultimately a test pilot. We think of him as an astronaut, some know that he was also a fighter pilot. He’s a veteran of the Korean conflict and just an amazing individual. Humble, smart, very patriotic individual. And how appropriate that as a test pilot, which he was during his whole post-fighter pilot career until his time as an astronaut, it’s perfect that Plum Brook be named after him.

“Neil’s family, by the way, agrees with that, as does NASA, as do others we’ve talked to. So we’re hoping that this would be a fitting way to the honor a man who for all of his accomplishments saw him first and foremost as a patriot who pushed the boundaries of flight and, therefore, the test facility was very dear to him. I talked to him about this test facility. After one of my visits there I went to see him at his home and told him about the progress they were making and at that time they were trying to revamp some of the facilities there. And he was really excited about it. He was a very modest man and did not want things named after him. He viewed his service to his country as the reward. That’s all he ever wanted in life.

“So that makes it all the more fitting that we in fact do name this after him as a great model for young people and certainly for those interested in avionics and space crafts and being astronauts. He’s a person who his example is one we should all look up to. So I hope when this comes to the Senate floor for a vote, all my colleagues will support it and I hope that will happen very soon.”