In 1939, the United States Congress approved a second aerodynamics research center for the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). The second center was built within a Naval Air Station, called Moffett Field, and was named for the chairman of NACA, Joseph Sweetman Ames.
In 1958, the center was renamed to the NASA Ames Research Center, after NACA was renamed to NASA.
In present day, the Ames Research Center is utilized for flight and space research.
This NASA Documentary goes more in depth in the history of the center.
Doctor Wernher von Braun, whom was a former Nazi V-1 and V-2 rocket scientist who was brought to the United States via the Central Intelligence Agency’s classified Operation Paperclip program, was made the Director of a team of 5,500 employees working on the Saturn V Rocket and other NASA projects. The Deputy Director for Research and Development and the Deputy Director of Administration reported directly to former George C. Marshall Flight Center Director Wernher von Braun.
In August of 1958, U.S. Senator John Glenn Beall, Junior announced that the federal government would establish a “Space Projects Center” in Greenbelt, Maryland. The center site was part of the Department of Agriculture’s Beltsville Agricultural Research Center.
Months later, after the passage of the National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958, the Naval Research Laboratory’s Project Vanguard was legally transferred to the “Beltsville Space Center,” though it remained at the Naval Research Laboratory facilities until the completion of the new center.
In May of 1959, NASA formally announced that the new facility would be called Goddard Space Flight Center, after Dr. Robert Hutchings Goddard. Robert Goddard, whom is widely considered the father of modern rocketry, theorized that rockets would work in a vacuum, and thus could potentially be used to send payloads into space. On March 16, 1961, the 35th anniversary of Goddard’s first liquid-propellant rocket launch Goddard Space Flight Center was officially dedicated.