Brown to NASA: Fully Utilize Plum Brook by Supporting NASA Glenn--European Space Agency Partnership

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) sent a letter today to NASA Administrator Charles Bolden urging him to support a proposed partnership between the NASA Glenn Research Center (GRC) and the European Space Agency (ESA) that would help ensure that the Plum Brook facility in Sandusky is fully utilized.

“It is critical that NASA GRC’s Plum Brook facility is fully utilized.  ESA has approached NASA GRC with a proposal to test its new Ariane V upper stage engine at the B-2 Facility at NASA GRC’s Plum Brook Station site.  This is precisely the type of international cooperation and ‘thinking outside the box’ that you prioritized for NASA,” Brown wrote.

“NASA should do all it can to promote this facility and its world-class workforce,” including approving the GRC-ESA partnership,” Brown continued. He also requested that Bolden work with his office should a change in the law be needed to ensure the GRC-ESA partnership.

Brown has been a leader in Congressional efforts to save jobs at NASA Glenn. Thanks to Brown, a Senate bill passed in 2010 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 letter to NASA is below.

The Honorable Charles F. Bolden

Administrator

National Aeronautics and Space Administration

300 E Street, S.W.

Washington, D.C. 20546-0002

Dear General Bolden:

I am writing in support of the proposed NASA Glenn Research Center (GRC) – European Space Agency (ESA) partnership.

It is critical that NASA GRC’s Plum Brook facility is fully utilized.  ESA has approached NASA GRC with a proposal to test its new Ariane V upper stage engine at the B-2 Facility at NASA GRC’s Plum Brook Station site.  This is precisely the type of international cooperation and “thinking outside the box” that you prioritized for NASA.

Review of the laws governing NASA’s ability to perform this type of work, specifically regarding Reimbursable Space Act Agreements, suggests that there is no reason that should preclude the establishment of this partnership.  If NASA feels that a change in law is needed to carry this program out, please work with my staff on how we can accommodate that change.  If NASA is not pursuing this joint venture, I would like to meet with you personally to discuss.

A healthy Plum Brook Station does not only benefit NASA.  The United States Air Force has expressed interest in using the B-2 facility to test its NextGen engine immediately following the Ariane V test, and a number of other commercial spaceflight companies have expressed interest in using not only the B-2, but the Space Power Facility, as well.  NASA should do all it can to promote this facility and its world-class workforce.

Thank you for your attention to this important matter.

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