WASHINGTON, D.C. – As NASA moves forward with the development of the Space Launch System (SLS), U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) led a bipartisan letter to NASA chief Charles Bolden—signed by the majority of the Ohio Congressional delegation—urging him to fully utilize NASA Glenn’s human spaceflight expertise as NASA finalizes the roles that each of its ten centers will play in the development of the SLS program.
“NASA Glenn played a large part in the Constellation program. Its level of expertise makes it a natural fit to assume similar leadership roles in the development of the Space Launch System,” Brown said. “That’s why I am joining so many members of the Ohio delegation today in urging Administrator Bolden to preserve human spaceflight jobs at NASA Glenn, and to provide to us an outline of the role that the GRC will play in the Space Launch System program.”
“NASA Glenn’s interests are best served when members of the Ohio delegation—Democratic and Republican alike—can work together, as we are today, to preserve jobs and bring new missions to the center,” Brown added.
In addition to Brown, the letter was signed by Sen. Rob Portman and Representatives Steve LaTourette, Steve Austria, Steve Chabot, Marcia Fudge, Bob Gibbs, Bill Johnson, Jim Jordan, Marcy Kaptur, Dennis Kucinich, Bob Latta, Jim Renacci, Tim Ryan, Jean Schmidt, Patrick Tiberi, and Michael Turner.
Brown has been a leader in Congressional efforts to save jobs at NASA Glenn. Thanks to Brown, a Senate bill passed last year preserved civil servant jobs at GRC for the next three years. In February, an effort to eliminate aeronautics research and development from NASA’s mission was stripped on the Senate floor also as a result of Brown’s leadership.
The full text of the letter is below.
The Honorable Charles F. Bolden
National Aeronautics and Space Administration
300 E. Street, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20546-0002
Dear General Bolden:
We are pleased to see that NASA has selected the Space Launch System (SLS) that will enable the United States to continue its leadership in human spaceflight and exploration. We are encouraged by NASA’s previous commitment that the NASA Glenn Research Center (GRC) will continue the work it did previously under the Constellation Program. As NASA finalizes its acquisition strategy and the roles each of its ten centers will play within SLS, we urge you to continue with GRC’s successful leadership in the design, development, and test of the human spaceflight systems.
Under the Constellation Program, NASA GRC led the design and development of several critical pieces of both the Ares I and Ares V rockets, including parts of the Upper Stage, Instrument Unit Avionics, and Payload Fairing. Since its inception, NASA GRC has been a world leader in power and propulsion. For the Constellation Program, Glenn was successfully developing the Ares I Upper Stage Electrical Power Systems (EPS), Development Flight Instrumentation (DFI) System, Thrust Vector Control (TVC) System, Purge System, and associated Ground Support Equipment. In addition, NASA GRC has been the principal center for advanced materials, and was therefore leading the work for the Ares V Payload Fairing – which someday will become the largest composite fairing in the world.
As NASA moves forward in its simultaneous core and upper stage SLS development strategy, your continued commitment to NASA GRC as the lead center for both the development and testing of the Payload Fairing will ensure the success of the program. A composite fairing of this size will hold specific challenges in the design, build, and test – challenges that are well-understood by GRC due to its work with the Ares V Fairing. NASA GRC, the National Composites Center in Dayton, and Ohio in general is the leading state for composite structures. At its Plum Brook Station site, NASA GRC has the only vacuum chamber in the world large enough to conduct a full-scale fairing separation test for a fairing of this size – the testing of which is crucial to the successful launching of payloads on the SLS.
We are encouraged that NASA GRC will remain an important partner as the SLS moves forward. NASA GRC is an invaluable asset to NASA and the State of Ohio. Part of what makes the center such a strong resource is the commitment shown to it by its immediate community in Cleveland and its partners all across the state. To ensure that commitment continues into the future, it is important that NASA provide as clear a picture as possible as to NASA GRC’s role in the SLS development. As such, within 30 days of the finalization of center roles, please provide documentation to our delegation detailing NASA GRC’s role in SLS, and an estimated timeline for when SLS work will take place at NASA GRC.
Thank you for your attention to this important matter.