NASA Langley Receives Top Honors at AIAA Awards Banquet

Press Release From: Langley Research Center
Posted: Tuesday, May 16, 2017

NASA had a stellar night during the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) annual Aerospace Spotlight Awards Gala in Washington, D.C. May 3.

NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, was honored with the 2017 AIAA Foundation Award for Excellence as recognition for its “100 years of excellence in aerospace achievements, scientific discoveries, and technological breakthroughs.”

The selection committee recognized the center as the nation’s first civilian aeronautical research facility specifically designed to study the problems of flight, calling attention to many of the center’s many firsts.

The facility played a critical role in the early years shaping the nation’s aerospace industry. It pioneered and developed variable density, full-scale, transonic, supersonic and hypersonic wind tunnels; low-drag, streamlined engine cowlings; airfoil characterization, as well as laminar-flow and supercritical wing designs still in use on aircraft today; the swept back wing; the “transonic area-rule;” winglets; and the “blunt-body” concept that is instrumental to our nation’s space and missile programs.

David Bowles, Langley’s director, accepted the award on behalf of the center’s 3,600 civil service and contract employees at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center.

The AIAA also honored William Gerstenmaier, associate administrator for NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate and an AIAA Honorary Fellow, with the 2017 Goddard Astronautics Award for his leadership of America’s human spaceflight program, commitment to international space cooperation, and his work inspiring a new generation of space explorers.

Gerstenmaier’s nomination write-up called attention to his instrumental leadership in the success of the space shuttle and International Space Station programs, and his continuing work in supporting private sector development in human spaceflight.

The Goddard Astronautics Award is the highest honor that AIAA bestows for notable achievements in the field of astronautics. It was endowed by Mrs. Goddard to commemorate her husband, Robert H. Goddard – rocket visionary, pioneer, bold experimentalist, and superb engineer, whose early liquid rocket engine launches set the stage for the development of astronautics.

The AIAA also presented their International Cooperation Award to three individuals for their “vision, leadership, and implementation of the NASA Common Research Model (CRM) advancing United States and international aeronautical research collaboration on industry-relevant challenges in open forums.”

Richard Wahls, strategic technical advisor, Advanced Air Vehicles Program under NASA’s Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate; Melissa Rivers, research aerospace engineer, Research Directorate at NASA Langley; and John Vassberg, Boeing Technical Fellow, and technical lead, BCA Advanced Concepts/Design Center, The Boeing Company, developed NASA’s Common Research Model to meet the international aerospace community’s need for a modern, industry-relevant research model that could accommodate open and public geometries, process advanced experimental data, and serve as an international standard for wind tunnel testing model that supports comparisons between facilities.

The AIAA confers its International Cooperation Award to those who have made significant contributions to the initiation, organization, implementation and/or management of activities with significant United States involvement that includes extensive international cooperative activities in space, aeronautics or both.

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