WASHINGTON - NASA's International Space Station Program has won the 2009 Collier Trophy, which is considered the top award in aviation. The National Aeronautic Association in Washington bestows the award annually to recognize the greatest achievement in aeronautics or astronautics in America.
The association says it selected the station "for the design, development, and assembly of the of the world's largest spacecraft, an orbiting laboratory that promises new discoveries for mankind and sets new standards for international cooperation in space."
"We are very proud to receive the Collier Trophy," NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said. "This prestigious award is a testament to the dedication and hard work of thousands of people around the world. With our intention to extend station operations to at least 2020, there are limitless possibilities for science and technological breakthroughs."
The station is a joint project of NASA, the Canadian Space Agency, the European Space Agency, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency and the Russian Federal Space Agency. The orbiting laboratory is nearing completion and will mark the tenth anniversary of a continuous human presence in orbit later this year.
"We're honored to be recognized for our past achievements for building and operating the space station, and we're excited about the future," said Bill Gerstenmaier, associate administrator for NASA's Space Operations Mission Directorate. "There's a new era ahead of potential groundbreaking scientific research aboard the station."
Congress designated the space station a national laboratory in 2005. The station provides a research platform that takes advantage of the microgravity conditions 220 miles above Earth's surface across a wide variety of fields. These include human life sciences, biological science, human physiology, physical and materials science, and Earth and space science.
After completion of assembly later this year, the station's crew and its U.S., European, Japanese and Russian laboratory facilities will expand the pace of space-based research to unprecedented levels. Nearly 150 experiments are under way on the station. More than 400 experiments have been conducted since research began nine years ago. These experiments already are leading to advances in the fight against food poisoning, new methods for delivering medicine to cancer cells and the development of more capable engines and materials for use on Earth and in space.
Supporting an international crew of six, the station has a mass of almost 800,000 pounds and a habitable volume of more than 12,000 cubic feet. It is approximately the size of a five-bedroom home. The station uses state-of-the-art systems to generate solar electricity, recycle nearly 85 percent of its water and generate much of its own oxygen. Nearly 190 people have visited the station, which is supporting its 22nd resident crew.
The award will be formally presented to the International Space Station Program team on May 13. The trophy is named for Robert J. Collier, a publisher who commissioned it in 1910 with the intent to encourage the U.S. aviation community to strive for excellence and achievement in aeronautic development.
For more information about the Collier Trophy, visit:
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