a brilliant scientist, an innovative leader, who assembled a dedicated and motivated staff and left them free to forge ahead.”
When Mark departed Ames on July 7, 1977, Syvertson became acting center director. In April 1978, NASA Administrator Robert Frosch flew to Ames to remove “Acting” from his title and Syvertson became the center’s director. Today, the main auditorium at NASA Ames has been named in Sy’s honor, in part because he appreciated the community-building value of scientific talks, and on that day the room erupted in a standing ovation when Frosch announced Sy’s promotion. Sy brought new energy to the center’s programs, and the center continued to blossom as a world-class research organization. He directed the choice of engineering opportunities of national significance. He expanded collaborative programs with the U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, and Federal Aviation Administration. In aeronautics, Ames people expanded their research into air traffic control; vertical-lift aircraft, such as XV-15 tilt-rotor aircraft and the RSRA X-wing; and other advanced rotorcraft. Ames provided comprehensive test support for the aerodynamics and thermal protection systems of the Space Shuttle.
In the space sciences, Ames prepared the Galileo probe for its journey to Jupiter, flew the Kuiper Airborne Observatory, and developed the telescope for the infrared astronomical satellite, a joint project of the Netherlands, Great Britain, and the United States. In 1981, NASA Headquarters consolidated the Dryden Flight Research Center into Ames, to help it operate more efficiently, and Syvertson managed both laboratories. The Numerical Aerodynamic Simulation Facility was designed while Sy was director, and it later grew into a supercomputing center of national significance. The 40- by 80-foot wind tunnel was updated and an 80- by 120-foot test section was added, making it the largest wind tunnel in the world. Ames expanded its research program in human factors and built the Manned Vehicle Systems Research Facility. The search for extraterrestrial intelligence became a key component of NASA’s work in exobiology. It was a golden age of intensive