NACA Inspections

Lewis Flight Propulsion Laboratory


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NASA intended the September 19-21, 1973 Inspection at Lewis Research Center to be the first of a new round of Inspections at its three former NACA centers. The Apollo Program had recently ended, and the Agency's budget was plummeting. The reductions impacted Lewis, Ames, and Langley research centers more than the space flight centers. In addition, public enthusiasm for NASA had waned significantly since the Apollo 11 mission in 1969. To address this latter concern, the theme of the 1973 Inspection was "Technology in the Service of Man." It sought to demonstrate how NASA's aeronautics and space research benefited life on Earth.

In a dramatic shift, only three of the nine stops covered space topics, and these stressed their terrestrial applications. Speakers tied the Centaur rocket program to insulation and cryogenics breakthroughs that improved medical facilities, space communications systems to television signal transmission, and satellite-to-Earth observation tools. The aeronautics talks discussed quiet engines, vertical and short take-off and landing aircraft, and pollution reduction. There was a new stop dedicated to renewable energy research, as well as stops detailing the Center’s work on composite materials and lubrication systems.

Nearly 900 guests attended the 1973 Inspection, which included exhibits from all of the other NASA centers in the hangar. Walter Olson managed the planning of the event. Lewis also held an open house for employees on the Sunday after the Inspection. This was followed by a multiday public open house during which 22,000 visitors listened to the talks and viewed the exhibits. Although the 1973 Inspection was a success with both the guests and visitors, it did not produce the political support that NASA had hoped for. It was the final Inspection.