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NEWS | Oct. 15, 2019

Airmen inspired to see beyond the stars with NASA visit

By A1C Sarah Dowe 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va. – The NASA Langley Research Center has been a staple of the Hampton Roads, Virginia community for over 100 years and has directly impacted the daily lives of not just Americans but of the world with their research and development of new technology.

Still, hidden in the forest terrain behind the protection of the Langley Air Force Base fence line, it’s hard to imagine what happens behind the scenes. Separated only by a small unmanned gate, visitors from Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, and representatives from local government offices recently ventured next door to get a firsthand look for themselves.

U.S. Air Force Col. Clinton Ross, 633rd Air Base Wing commander, Chief Master Sgt. Gregory Peterson, 633rd ABW command chief, Senator Mark Warner’s military liaison, Charlotte Hurd and Senator Timothy Kaine’s military liaison, Diane Kaufman were part of the facility tour Oct. 9, 2019.

Clayton Turner, director of NASA’s LaRC, welcomed his neighbors and gave an overview of the mission and goals of the LaRC.

“NASA has achieved great things in the last 100 years,” said Turner. “We are looking forward to the next 100, as we explore our Earth more and prepare to extend human exploration deeper into our solar system—first to the moon and then to Mars.”

Visitors toured one of NASA LaRC’s newest state-of-the-art facilities, the Flight Dynamic Research Facility, viewed the historic aircraft hangar where astronauts prepared for the first lunar expeditions, and met with researchers and developers from NASA’s City Environment for Range Testing of Autonomous Integrated Navigation, or CERTAIN, program.

According to Turner, the mission of NASA’s LaRC is to make revolutionary improvements toward aviation, science, education and innovation, develop technology for space exploration and improve economic vitality and stewardship of the Earth.

“We have a huge mission to inspire the next generation the way we were inspired,” said Turner. “We do that with our outreach and education programs.”

Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, or STEM programs, which provide opportunities for students, educators and institutions to connect with NASA experts to learn about exciting missions through innovative and informative educational resources, were also discussed.

Along with educating the community, the LaRC team stressed the importance of educating those a little closer to the action.

“It’s important for us to be good neighbors and support each other’s missions,” said Ross. “The impact of JBLE and NASA are felt beyond the gates and we must continuously work together to maintain that relationship.”

In 2018, NASA LaRC supported approximately 7,000 jobs in the Hampton Roads community and approximately 8,000 jobs in the state of Virginia alone.

Creating work environments where both Airmen and researchers can thrive and grow for tomorrow is a shared sentiment of both agencies who face aging infrastructure, encroachment issues and for Langley AFB, changes in water levels which cause potential damage to systems and infrastructure.

JBLE leadership were also introduced to the Vibrant Transformation to Advance LaRC or the ViTAL program, an ambitious revitalization plan to change the face of the center that promises to boost capabilities, save energy, and ensure that Langley remains a vital asset for the nation well into the 21st century.

“We have great facilities, but it’s our employees—smart, resourceful, passionate people—who make it all possible,” said Turner. “Langley AFB is a huge part of our success from providing us security, aviation support assistance, and even protection of key facilities during natural disasters.”

Langley AFB and NASA LaRC’s shared flightline isn’t the only way the two agencies cross paths. JBLE Airmen provide resources such as fuel and maintenance support, when needed, to NASA’s LaRC aircraft as they perform research missions.

 “It’s important that we remember our mission success is closely tied to the support we get from both our military and community partners to continue advances in the Health and Medicine, Public Safety, Transportation, Consumer Goods, Energy and Environment, Industrial Productivity and Information Technology realms,” said Turner.

All sides agreed about the significance of working together and becoming more educated and involved in the other’s mission to reach a common goal and improve the effectiveness of support they each provide to the community and the world.

“This was a great opportunity to see and learn, while fostering lasting partnerships,” said Ross. “I’m looking forward to seeing what other ways we can integrate our Airmen to support NASA’s mission.”