Suggested Searches

Ames Research Center History

From the NACA’s Ames Aeronautical Laboratory to NASA in Silicon Valley.

ames center directors

Portrait of Smith J. DeFrance, First Director of Ames Research Center 1940-1965 (then Ames Aeronautical Laboratory).

July 1940 – October 1965

Studio Portrait of Ames Director H. Julian Allen

October 1965-November 1968

Portrait of Dr. Hans Mark, Director of Ames Research Center (1969-1978).

February 1969-August 1977

Portrait of Clarence "Sy" Syvertson, Director of Ames Research Center (1978-1984).

August 1977-January 1984

Portrait of William F. Ballhaus Jr., Ames Center Director (1984-1989).

January 1984-February 1988

Portrait of Dr. Dale L. Compton, Director of Ames Research Center (1989-1994).

February 1988-January 1994

Portrait of Ken Munechika, Director of Ames Research Center (1994-1996).

January 1994-March 1996

Portrait of Dr. Henry 'Harry' McDonald, Ames Research Center Director (1996-2002).

March 1996-September 2002

Portrait of Scott Hubbard

September 2002-February 2006

Studio Portrait of Ames Center Director (2006-2015) Simon Pete Worden.

May 2006-March 2015

Portrait of Dr. Eugene L. Tu, director of NASA's Ames Research Center (2017)

May 2015-Present

The original construction shack at Ames is featured in this view looking toward the southwest. Navy housing and buildings, still being utilized, can be observed in the center background.
Black and white photo of the original Ames welcome sign, with the NACA insignia, National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, Ames Aeronautical Laboratory.

Since 1939, Ames contributions have fundamentally shaped fields of study related to aeronautics and space. The ingenuity and problem-solving capabilities of personnel at Ames have affected all our lives in numerous ways, from everyday air travel to how we envision the possibility of life on other worlds. Ames evolved as a special place where state-of-the-art facilities and world-class talent melded to produce cutting-edge research in fields such as aerodynamics, thermodynamics, simulation, space and life sciences, and intelligent systems. Basic and applied research have been cornerstones of Ames since its founding as an aeronautical laboratory. That laboratory was an expansion of the first National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, or NACA, facilities at Langley Aeronautical Laboratory in Hampton, Virginia, and it transitioned to research center with the advent of NASA in 1958.

Read a Brief History of Ames about


Moffett Field, CA


December 20, 1939

Staff in 1940

Less than 60

first Director

Smith J. DeFrance

More Ames and NASA History

Explore our archives at Ames and read more in depth articles and books from the NASA History Office.

Keep Exploring

Discover More Topics From NASA