NASA to prioritize Plum Brook Station

The man poised to lead regional NASA operations assured space advocates he'll prioritize and continue investing in Perkins Township's Plum Brook Station.
Andy Ouriel
Dec 14, 2012


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."




That is kind of funny, they print a story about continuing operations at Plum Brook, but use a picture of a building that no longer is standing...

car 54

Let's put the runway dream to bed. Make a helicopter pad and they will come.

The Bizness

The runway, and technology business park ideas are great ideas. That could completely change our cities.

2cents's picture

I’m all for the runway, heck the racetrack in Norwalk wants to buy that airport and Griffins are closing, that eliminates the two in close proximity that were stopping it. Just think now NASA and other companies and countries that use things like the Space Power Facility do not have to fly large payloads into Mansfield, and then truck them here for testing.

It would have a global impact to bring technological related jobs and business into the area. The runway could be both commercial, NASA and US military secure. Have the one or two runways and after landing some aircraft would taxi through a secure gate to NASA and the others would taxi to a commercial terminal area.

There is plenty of land at that facility for people to buy their own hangers, it could be a entire new outlook for Erie county if some minds are not too small to stop it.


The airports you are referring to could not handle the amount of freight and or traffic that Plumbrook would require. A new runway would need to be constructed.


@The Bizness: How long has the area been talking about his runway. The only thing holding it back is that NASA does not want to pay for it, instead they want the county to pay for it. This stance makes no sense... It would be like your neighbor wanting you to pay for his new garage, but you never get to use it. You get to look at it and admire it through the fence around his propery, but you are not allowed to park in it.

I do not blame the county or state governments for not footing the bill for this. If it is so important to NASA it can come out of their budget.


The money, believe it or not, isn't the issue. The primary roadblock to getting a much-improved airport has been the close proximity of other airports which refused to consider closure or regionalization (I understand their arguments, by the way...). If the nearby airports close or become truly privatized, the FAA will look at the plans a lot more favorably.

An airport with a sufficiently long runway to bring in large payloads for NASA would be of benefit to all by virtue of Plumbrook expansions (can you say "high tech jobs?") not to mention the modernization and safety that would be part and parcel of a new airport.

I couldn't agree with 2cents more. If the primary roadblock is removed, all that would be stopping a vast improvement in Erie County on a host of levels would be small minds.

The Bizness

I don't often agree with 2cents and yourself, but I am in complete agreement with you on this.


What about Stringer and Lugo's comments in the spring of 2010 that NASA would not pay for the runway, other parties would have too? They already have a temporary grass runway behind the SPF.

Free Man

and Plumbrook has employee skill sets that are very capable of cutting that grass.

Free Man

" That is kind of funny, they print a story about continuing operations at Plum Brook, but use a picture of a building that no longer is standing... " and they had to hire outside expertise to get rid of it ..." The Cleveland Plain Dealer has information on tearing down the hypersonic wind tunnel at Plumbrook also.
If Free delivers on his promise... (IF) pipe dream.
Tax dollars at waste.


@Free Man, that hypersonic wind tunnel will tear itself down if it is left for a few years. Last I was in there you could not access the lower levels. The entire station is a textbook example of throwing good money at bad projects.

Free Man

Wow, and Thank You !!!! Did you know that Plumbrook Station gets $50,000 a year to maintain it.


Hey Register, just an FYI. You always mention Plum Brook as a Perkins Township facility. While true, Plum Brook also extends in Oxford Township (where the Space Power Facility is located). That is all :)

Free Man

It really doesn't matter it is as good as closed...!


In the spirit of the new N.A.S.A Under the Obama administration, I hear they are going to be spending a couple of million building a new Mosque where Muslims can go to learn about their contributions to space exploration.


Seriously, when I worked for NASA (under the Obama admin) we were told that we were going to shift away from space exploration, and focus on Global Warming research... Needless to say, I knew when it was time to pack my bags and get out.

Free Man

Needless to say, I knew when it was time to pack my bags and get out. You and a few other lucky ones got out ..! Especially after the salary cuts..