The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) honored NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope and Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) missions and contractors as three of the 2023 recipients of its most prestigious awards, the AIAA Premier Awards. The awards recognize the individuals in aerospace AIAA deems as most influential and inspiring.
“We congratulate both the Webb and DART teams for their incredible dedication to achieve NASA’s science goals for the benefit of all,” said Nicola Fox, associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters. “Their significant contributions have launched NASA into a new era of science and have 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,” said AIAA President Laura McGill. “AIAA is committed to ensuring that aerospace professionals are recognized and celebrated for their innovations and discoveries that make the world safer, more connected and accessible, and more prosperous.”
AIAA Award for Aerospace Excellence
The AIAA Award for Aerospace Excellence was added in 2023 to celebrate a unique program or mission in the aerospace community deserving timely recognition.
This award honors a unique achievement by a group or team in the aerospace community that is shaping the future of aerospace and inspiring the next generation to pursue careers in aerospace.
This award was bestowed upon the DART team, including NASA and the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland. On Sept. 26, 2022, DART impacted a target asteroid – which posed no threat to Earth – and successfully altered the asteroid’s orbit, marking humanity’s first time purposely changing the motion of a celestial object and the first full-scale demonstration of asteroid deflection technology.
AIAA Goddard Astronautics Award
The Goddard Astronautics Award is the highest honor AIAA bestows for notable achievement in the field of astronautics. It was endowed by his widow, Esther Goddard, in the 1940s as the ARS Goddard Memorial Award 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.
This year’s Goddard Astronautics Award honored the following individuals from the Webb team for “delivering groundbreaking engineering performance for the James Webb Space Telescope, to advance the study of every phase of cosmic history”: Lee D. Feinberg and Michael T. Menzel, NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center; and Charlie Atkinson and Jennifer Love-Pruitt, Northrop Grumman.
Webb, an international mission led by NASA with its partners ESA (European Space Agency) and CSA (Canadian Space Agency), is the world’s premier space science observatory. Its design pushed the boundaries of space telescope capabilities to solve mysteries in our solar system, look beyond to distant worlds around other stars, and probe the mysterious structures and origins of our universe and our place in it.
AIAA Engineer of the Year Award
This award is presented to a member of the Institute who has made a recent individual, technical contribution in the application of scientific and mathematical principles leading to a significant technical accomplishment.
Alison A. Nordt, Lockheed Martin Advanced Technology Center, was honored “for exceptional engineering and technical leadership in the development of the Near-Infrared Camera critical to the success of the James Webb Space Telescope.”
Class of 2023 AIAA Fellows
AIAA also announced their new class of Honorary Fellows and Fellows for 2023. Eight individuals with NASA affiliations were honored as Fellows:
- Pamela Melroy, NASA deputy administrator
- Christopher D’Souza, NASA’s Johnson Space Center
- Kauser S. Imtiaz, NASA’s Langley Research Center, Engineering & Safety Center
- Jill Marlowe, NASA Headquarters
- Eugene Morelli, NASA’s Langley Research Center
- Surendra Sharma, NASA’s Ames Research Center
- Rickey J. Shyne, NASA’s Glenn Research Center
- Thomas H. Zurbuchen, former associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate, NASA Headquarters
Presentation of the 2023 AIAA Premier Awards and recognition of the Institute’s Class of 2023 Honorary Fellows and Fellows will take place at the AIAA Awards Gala, 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 aerospace technical society. With nearly 30,000 individual members from 91 countries, and 100 corporate members, AIAA brings together industry, academia, and government to advance engineering and science in aviation, space, and defense.