By Ralph Vartabedian
5:30 AM PST, January 17, 2014
NASA's little-known Dryden Flight Research Center in the Mojave Desert could become a household word -- now that it has been renamed for Neil Armstrong, the first man on the moon.
The facility now known as the Neil Armstrong Flight Research Center is one of NASA's key aeronautical research facilities. The legendary X-15 rocket plane was tested here in the 1960s, setting speed and altitude records that remained unbroken for decades. The center is on Edwards Air Force Base, where some of the nation's most important military aircraft have been tested throughout the last half a century, and where Armstrong was a test pilot.
Dryden, focusing on civilian aeronautical testing, was originally known as the High Speed Flight Research Center until 1976, when it was named for Hugh L. Dryden, an early aeronautical engineer who helped pioneer high-speed flight. Dryden died in 1965, nearly four years before Armstrong took the first step on the moon on July 20, 1969.
With the center's name change, NASA also renamed its Western aeronautical test range in Dryden's honor.
The actions came Thursday when President Obama signed a measure sponsored by Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield).
Armstrong died in 2012 at age 82.
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