2017-04-21 / Letters

Preserve and protect field lab

I strongly endorse the article “Knight urges NASA to save test stands” that appeared in the April 7 edition of the Simi Valley Acorn.

Humanity’s journey to the moon represents one of the great stories of man’s achievements. The irony here is that as the nation celebrated Neil Armstrong’s first step on the surface of the moon in July 1969, the facilities and structures that made possible Neil Armstrong’s achievement were abandoned and left to rust and finally dismantled. Today, very few facilities used in the early years of the space program remain.

Imagine trying to understand the Civil War without a visit to Manassas National Battlefield Park, Antietam or Gettysburg. Seeing these sites enables visitors to better understand the full story, complexity and significance of these historical events.

I believe the Santa Susana Field Lab has the power to be just as instructive in our understanding of the early history of the American space program and the way in which this program defines America’s story.

Chance, luck and good fortune have given us an opportunity to preserve one of the largest and rocket engine test facilities built in the early years of the space program. SSFL is here. It is intact and does not need to be re-created. All we have to do is to take advantage of this gift and preserve it as a historic site that will educate and inspire this and future generations of Americans to know the history of the space program. Let the same vision and ability that enabled us to go to the moon drive us to clean up, preserve and protect the SSFL.

I believe we as a nation have this vision. Let us see to it that the Santa Susana Field Lab is kept as a national historic site for this and future generations to serve as a catalyst to answer defining questions and tell our story.

Harry Butowsky
Reston, Va.

Butowsky is a retired historian who served with the National Park Service.

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