Press Release

Special NASA Talk Celebrates 100 Years of Aerospace Research

By SpaceRef Editor
March 20, 2015
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On Tuesday, March 24 at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, three aerospace curators from the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum will present “A Celebration of the Centennial of the NACA” at 2 p.m. in the Reid Conference Center.

The National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), formed 100 years ago on March 3, 1915, was responsible for many innovations still used in aircraft today and evolved into the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) on Oct. 1, 1958.

John D. Anderson, Jr., curator of aerodynamics; Tom Crouch, senior curator of aeronautics; and Roger D. Launius, associate director for collections and curatorial affairs will discuss how the NACA’s technological breakthroughs made modern flight and the beginnings of space exploration possible.

Anderson, Crouch and Launius will be available to answer questions from the media during a news briefing at 1:15 p.m. that day. Media who wish to do so should contact Chris Rink at 757-864-6786, or by e-mail at, by noon on the day of the talk for credentials and entry to the center.

That same evening at 7:30, they will present a similar program for the general public at the Virginia Air & Space Center in downtown Hampton. This Sigma Series event is free and no reservations are required.

Due to a lack of public and private investment in the “new” technology, by 1913 America lagged way behind European nations who were the leaders in aviation. Crouch will examine the Langley Aeronautical Laboratory and the prehistory of the NACA from 1910-1915.

Anderson will focus on the NACA in the 1930’s — trailblazing the technical world of aerodynamics with developments in the design and testing of aircraft shapes, engine cowlings and high-speed aerodynamics.

With NACA as NASA’s immediate predecessor, the retirement of the Space Shuttle, and varying opinions on the future human spaceflight, several have argued that NASA should return to its roots as a research and development agency dedicated to advancing the basic technology for spaceflight and transfer this to the private sector for further development. Launius will discuss the possible answers to this question, explore the NACA model for aerospace research and development, and reflect on a century of work in this field.

In addition to their curating positions at the National Air and Space Museum (NASM), Anderson is professor emeritus of aerospace engineering, University of Maryland, College Park. Crouch has been a Smithsonian employee since 1974 and held a variety of curatorial and administrative posts at both the NASM and the National Museum of American History. A senior curator and division chair in space history at NASM, between 1990 and 2002 Launius served as NASA’s chief historian.

For more information about NASA Langley’s Colloquium and Sigma Series Lectures, visit:

SpaceRef staff editor.