The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) designated NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope and Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) missions and contractors as three of the AIAA Premier Awards recipients for 2023. The awards honor those in the aerospace industry that AIAA considers to be the most influential and inspiring.
“We congratulate both the Webb and DART teams on their incredible dedication to achieving NASA’s science goals for the benefit of all,” said Nicola Fox, associate administrator for NASA Headquarters’ Science Mission Directorate. “Their significant contributions have launched NASA into a new era of science and inspired the world through their discoveries.”
“We are inspired by the hard work and achievements of these teams, and we thank them for their dedication to the aerospace industry,” AIAA President Laura McGill stated. “AIAA is committed to ensuring that aerospace professionals are recognized and celebrated for their innovations and discoveries that make the world safer, more connected, accessible, and prosperous.”
AIAA Aerospace Excellence Award
In 2023, the AIAA Award for Aerospace Excellence was created to honor a unique program or mission in the aerospace sector that deserves timely acknowledgment.
This award recognizes a one-of-a-kind achievement by an aerospace organization or team that is changing the future of aerospace and motivating the next generation to seek careers in aerospace.
The DART team, which included NASA and the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland, received this honor. DART successfully altered the orbit of a target asteroid, which presented no threat to Earth, on September 26, 2022, marking humanity’s first time purposefully influencing the motion of a celestial object and the first full-scale demonstration of asteroid deflection technology.
AIAA Goddard Space Flight Award
The Goddard Astronautics Award is AIAA’s highest accolade for outstanding achievement in the field of astronautics. It was established in the 1940s by his widow, Esther Goddard, to honor her husband, Robert H. Goddard, a rocket visionary, pioneer, daring experimentalist, and superb engineer whose early liquid rocket engine launches laid the groundwork for the development of astronautics.
The Goddard Astronautics Award for this year went to the following Webb team members for “delivering groundbreaking engineering performance for the James Webb Space Telescope, to advance the study of every phase of cosmic history”: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center’s Lee D. Feinberg and Michael T. Menzel; and Northrop Grumman’s Charlie Atkinson and Jennifer Love-Pruitt.
Webb is the world’s premier space science observatory, led by NASA with partners ESA (European Space Agency) and CSA (Canadian Space Agency). Its design expanded the capabilities of space telescopes to solve riddles in our solar system, gaze beyond to distant worlds orbiting other stars, and investigate the strange architecture and origins of our universe and our role in it.
Engineer of the Year Award from AIAA
This award is given to an Institute member who has made a recent individual, technical contribution in the application of scientific and mathematical ideas that has resulted in a major technological accomplishment.
Lockheed Martin Advanced Technology Center’s Alison A. Nordt was recognized “for exceptional engineering and technical leadership in the development of the Near-Infrared Camera critical to the success of the James Webb Space Telescope.”
AIAA Fellows Class of 2023
AIAA announced their 2023 class of Honorary Fellows and Fellows. Eight people with NASA connections were named Fellows:
- Christopher D’Souza, NASA’s Johnson Space Center’s deputy administrator Pamela Melroy
- NASA’s Langley Research Center, Engineering & Safety Center’s Kauser S. Imtiaz
- NASA Headquarters’ Jill Marlowe
- NASA’s Langley Research Center’s Eugene Morelli
- Surendra Sharma, Ames Research Center, NASA
- NASA’s Glenn Research Center’s Rickey J. Shyne
- Former NASA Headquarters Associate Administrator for the Science Mission Directorate, Thomas H. Zurbuchen
The 2023 AIAA Premier Awards will be presented, as well as the Institute’s Class of 2023 Honorary Fellows and Fellows, at the AIAA Awards Gala on Thursday, May 18, at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington.
The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) is the world’s largest technical society for aerospace. AIAA brings together business, academia, and government to enhance engineering and science in aviation, space, and defense. It has almost 30,000 individual members from 91 countries and 100 corporate members.