Press Release

National Space Club & Foundation Announces 2020 Award Recipients

By SpaceRef Editor
March 4, 2020
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Washington, DC – The National Space Club & Foundation is pleased to announce its Annual Award Recipients. The Awards are selected by panels of experts from across the aerospace and defense industry, government and academia and are a testament to the inspiring work of individuals throughout the United States. The Awards will be presented at the 63rd Annual Robert H. Goddard Memorial Dinner taking place at the Washington Hilton Hotel on Friday, March 20, 2020.
Recipients are:
William H. Gerstenmaier will receive the Club’s preeminent award, the Dr. Robert H. Goddard Memorial Trophy. He is being recognized for his almost fourteen-year stewardship at the helm of NASA human spaceflight where he demonstrated tenacity and perseverance coupled with strategic vision and laser-like focus on space exploration. He worked through the transitions of several administrations, NASA administrators, and congresses with his professionalism and technical capability. Through these transitions he helped maintain stability and focus of the human spaceflight portfolio, and he has been a powerful advocate for America’s space program. His wealth of experience, dedication, and credibility been indispensable to the success of NASA.
As the Associate Administrator, first for NASA’s Space Operations Mission Directorate (2005-2011), and then for Human Exploration and Operations Directorate for NASA during the critical years 2011-2019, he provided strategic direction for all aspects of NASA’s human exploration of space. Gerstenmaier provided leadership during the fly out of the Space Shuttle Program and provided programmatic direction for International Space Station (ISS) assembly missions, completion and continuous operations and utilization of the ISS. This included critically important coordination with NASA’s international partners that have developed over years into a growing coalition of nations committed to the peaceful exploration of space. During this same crucial period, he also led planning and development of the Space Launch System, Orion spacecraft, and Exploration Ground Systems and the Artemis Moon to Mars Program, as well as planning for the United States’ human landing on Mars. At the same time, he provided strategic guidance and direction to the groundbreaking commercial crew and cargo programs which developed capabilities to convey payloads and people to the International Space Station as well as other destinations in low Earth orbit.
Helen Buchanan, a freshman at UC Berkeley, studying Planetary Science is the recipient of the Goddard Memorial Dinner Keynote Scholarship. Growing up she was fascinated by both rocks and space.  Her passion for science was fueled by homeschooling where she had the opportunity to travel to national parks to learn about the local geology and observe the night sky. After completing all the science courses that were offered at her High School, she re-discovered her love for rocks and space through a community college astronomy class that inspired her to pursue her earlier dreams of Planetary Science.  As a freshman at UC Berkeley she joined her department’s Geology club, attended her first American Geophysical Union Conference in San Francisco, and was invited to pursue research in the Earth and Planetary Sciences.   She aspires to become an astronaut and plans on sharing her love of rocks and space with new generations in hopes of inspiring them to preserve this tiny blue dot we live on.
The Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration Team is the recipient of the Nelson P. Jackson Award for the most outstanding contribution to Aerospace in the preceding year. Long considered one of the great mysteries in the universe, the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) Collaboration contributed significantly to our knowledge base with the first picture of a Black Hole on April 10, 2019. The supermassive black hole imaged by the EHT is located in the center of the elliptical galaxy M87, located about 55 million light years from Earth. This first of its kind image was captured by FORS2 on ESO’s Very Large Telescope. Using the Event Horizon Telescope, scientists obtained an image of the black hole at the center of the galaxy M87. The black hole is outlined by emission from hot gas swirling around it under the influence of strong gravity near its event horizon. The global EHT collaboration team is led by the Center for Astrophysics, Harvard-Smithsonian, and includes a global collaboration of scientists and instruments that enable enhanced astronomic observations.
 Dr. Alejandro Egido is the recipient of the NOAA David Johnson Award. Dr. Egido, an employee of Global Science & Technology Inc., serves as the Jason Measurement System Engineer at the NOAA Laboratory for Satellite Altimetry, NESDIS Center for Satellite Applications and Research, NOAA Center for Weather and Climate Prediction. He is being recognized for developing and demonstrating a novel analytic technique, Fully-Focused Synthetic Aperture Radar altimetry, which dramatically improves the along-track resolution of a new generation of high-rate satellite radar altimeters. Dr. Egido’s achievements pave the way for new applications in operational ice thickness monitoring, inland water level measurement, and marine weather forecasting.
Lt Col Ryan F. Kelly, System Program Director, Advanced Space Capabilities, Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office, (AFRCO), is the winner of the General Bernard Schriever Award,  Lt Col Kelly  leads a 350-member, government and contractor team that  developed a $2.5 billion first-of-kind technology demonstration charged with closing a national capability gap for next-generation platforms.  His acquisition leadership in 2019 helped culminate 30 years of a critical Air Force technology pursuit, which resulted in the fielding of a more than $1 billion first-ever, advanced capability system and closed a national capability gap for two Combatant Commands.  Lt Col Kelly is leading the next generation of space acquisition leaders and fielding tomorrow’s technology today. 
Carl Preston Jones, Associate Director, Technical for NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center will receive the Astronautics Engineer Award for his distinguished career providing engineering leadership and expertise on projects critical to NASA missions including ISS life support, Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer and key launch vehicle systems. Mr. Jones has held key Marshall Space Flight Center leadership positions, helping to guide the future of human spaceflight hardware. In addition to his outstanding contribution in the field of engineering, he oversaw the teaming of Marshall Space Flight Center with several colleges and universities, providing an opportunity to a number of non-traditional academia organizations to partner with NASA to perform technology and knowledge development.
Donald E. Reed, Manager, Orion Flight Test office, National Aeronautics and Space Administration will receive the Eagle Manned Mission Award for his leadership of the complex, schedule-constrained Orion Ascent Abort developmental flight test in July 2019.  This test, critical to help ensure the safety of future astronauts, was originally scheduled for the fall of 2019, but was moved forward in response to changes in the Space Launch System (SLS) launch schedule.  Mr. Reed managed and integrated the USAF SR-118 based Abort Test Booster, the NASA crew module test article, the Lockheed-Martin launch abort system, coordinated launch site and range support, and managed the test sequence and requirements.  Despite the month-long government furlough, the test was accomplished five months ahead of plan, successfully demonstrating Orion’s emergency crew escape system under the most demanding ascent conditions the spacecraft will encounter.  
Bob Jacobs, Deputy Associate Administrator, Office of Communications, NASA will receive the Press Award. For 20 years, Mr. Jacobs has been instrumental in shaping NASA communications by pioneering new and innovative ways to optimize how NASA communicates accomplishments to the broadest possible audiences. These achievements include transforming NASA Television, creating NASA’s first official Twitter account, and refocusing Bob’s leadership and personal commitment to excellence have resulted in NASA reaching more than 80 million people daily.
Michael L. Orr, Director, Systems Engineering Directorate, National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) will receive the Dr. Joseph V. Charyk Award. As Director of the Systems Engineering Directorate, Mr. Orr led the transformation of the National Reconnaissance Office’s enterprise engineering practices to a state-of-the-art model-based approach. This effort overturned the traditional static-document method of Enterprise design and replaced it with dynamic digital techniques to improve requirements development, communication, collaboration, and system analysis. The NRO’s adoption of model-based systems engineering is the first attempt within the Intelligence Community to use digital engineering at the Enterprise scale. As a result, the NRO will be delivering an Intelligence Enterprise of previously unimagined capability.
Deborah S. Morgan, the Innovation Center Director at South Sevier High School, Burrville, UT will receive the Space Educator Award for her creativity and dedication as a career space educator engaging, inspiring and educating students about the space frontier. She is recognized for providing research opportunities and career guidance to create the next generation of Space professionals. As a Chemistry and Physics teacher, she has exposed her students to a number of scientific studies as it relates to solving problems on the ISS, as well as studies that pertain to Lunar Crater Morphology and Young Stellar Objects. In addition she has involved her students in research and study programs at CalTech, NASA OPSPARC, NITARP, the USGS ExMASS lunar and asteroid research program, and the Green Bank Pulsar Search Collaboratory (PSC) science program. She serves as an advisor and contributor to the Arizona State University/ NASA SMD Infiniscope Educator program.
Trevor P. Erwin, a Senior at John Jay Science and Engineering Academy in San Antonio, Texas, is the winner of the Olin E. Teague Scholarship. Mr. Erwin is being recognized for his experiment, “The Effectiveness of Polyethylene in the Construction of Martian Habitats” that examined the effectiveness of polyethylene on the construction of Martian habitats.  His final data analysis supported the hypothesis that a polyethylene structure could maintain and Earth-like internal pressure while withstanding external pressure tests mirroring the pressure found on the surface of Mars.  He concluded that polyethylene could be used effectively to build a space habitat on Mars. Trevor also suggested that this has significant ramifications as polyethylene is currently of great interest in space exploration because of its radiation-shielding capabilities.
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Individuals and organizations interested in attending the 63rd Annual Robert H. Goddard Memorial Dinner on Friday, March 20, 2020 at the Washington Hilton, may find more information on our website For specific questions, please contact the Space Club at info@spaceclub.orgor by calling 202-547-0060.
The National Space Club and Foundation is a 501c3 non-profit organization devoted to fostering excellence in space activity through interaction between industry and government, and through a continuing program of educational support. Youth Education is a premier focus of the Club, providing over $160,000 in scholarships and internships each year. Awards are offered to recognize outstanding accomplishments in spaceflight, engineering, science, management, and education.
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SpaceRef staff editor.