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NASA to prioritize Plum Brook Station

Andy Ouriel • Dec 14, 2012 at 4:55 PM

Jim Free, the imminent director at Cleveland's Glenn Research Center, vowed to aggressively pursue companies looking for places to analyze sophisticated space equipment at Plum Brook, regarded as a unique, world-class testing facility.

If Free delivers on his promise, the claims could translate into vastly improved Plum Brook facilities and hundreds of new, high-tech jobs in Erie County.

"There is a strong commitment" to Plum Brook, Free told the Register during an exclusive interview Wednesday.

When asked what NASA administrators will do to ensure Plum Brook's viability, they said they plan to conduct more tests inside the facility's Space Power and B-2 facilities.

The Space Power Facility houses the world's largest vacuum chamber, capable of simulating space-like conditions such as configuring temperatures ranging from -300 degrees to 300 degrees.

The B-2 Facility conducts testing for upper-stage launch vehicles and rocket engines under simulation of high-altitude conditions. For the past 15 years, each facility schedules one or two tests a year.

Both men both said they want to plan multiple tests for inside each facility every year in the future.

The Register also asked two other questions during the visit:

Q: Will NASA administrators help, in any way, fund a runway?

Lugo: NASA supports a runway funded by external sources, and that includes construction and maintenance. That position has never changed. We still support it but we are not providing any resources to enable it.

Note: The tentative 9,000-foot airstrip, which would allow companies to fly equipment into Perkins, could cost anywhere from $40 million to $90 million.

Q: What is the status of Plum Brook Station director Gen. David Stringer's future with NASA?

Free: Gen. Stringer is a valued part of my team. He and I have worked very closely on Plum Brook, and his skills out there are very valuable. He also has a distinguished military career.

Lugo: Gen. Stringer is a part of the Glenn Research Center staff and he'll continue to be a senior executive with appropriate responsibilities. (His job is) secured."


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