News Releases

Angela Storey
NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, Ala.

RELEASE : 10-041
NASA’s Marshall Center Honors Crossville, Ala., Native Judy Ballance With Women’s Equality Day Award
HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -- Judy Ballance, acting deputy chief engineer for the Science & Mission Systems Office at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., has received a Women's Equality Day award for exceptional professional service to the Marshall Center and the U.S. space program.

Since 2006, Ballance has been responsible for ensuring technical excellence on a variety of critical NASA science instruments, payloads and space missions, integrating the work of multiple NASA field centers and international partners. She provided technical oversight of a series of successful international science missions: the Japanese-led Hinode satellite, launched in 2006 to study the sun's turbulent magnetic fields; the Moon Mineralogy Mapper, a NASA survey instrument that flew to the moon in 2008 on India's lunar probe, Chandrayaan-1; and the GLAST Burst Monitor, a joint U.S.-German instrument aboard the Gamma-ray Large Area Space Telescope, launched in 2008 to study high-energy gamma rays in deep space.

Ballance also mentors her office’s assistant chief engineers, and participates in independent technical assessments of commercial satellites and other industry projects.

"Judy is especially deserving of this honor," said Gary Wentz, chief engineer for the Science & Mission Systems Office and Ballance's supervisor. "She is extremely capable, and has been instrumental in providing technical leadership to the Science & Mission Systems Office."

The Women’s Equality Day awards recognize federal employees in four categories – professional, administrative, supervisory and clerical.

The annual awards are sponsored by the Federal Women's Program in Marshall's Office of Diversity & Equal Opportunity, in celebration of Women's Equality Day and the passage of the 19th Amendment in 1920.

Ballance and three other honorees received their awards in March as part of Marshall’s Women’s History Month seminar.

"There are so many outstanding women at the Marshall Center, so I am humbled to receive this award," Balance said. "I appreciate the opportunity to work in the challenging but rewarding field of spaceflight."

A native of Crossville, Ala., Ballance earned a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from the University of Alabama in Huntsville in 1985. She spent the next four years conducting technical analysis of International Space Station hardware for McDonnell Douglas of Huntsville.

She joined NASA in 1989 as a Marshall Center electrical engineer, specializing in avionics hardware and integrated hardware testing. She contributed to development of the 20-year deep-space imaging veteran Hubble Space Telescope, four Spacelab orbiting science missions and a host of alternative propulsion technologies, including solar sails, ion engines, aeroshells and aerocapture and space tethers.

From 1989 to 1997, she was an electrical engineer and test lead for the Chandra X-ray Observatory. Designed and built at the former X-ray Calibration Facility at Marshall, the high-powered Chandra telescope was launched in 1999 to conduct the most detailed X-ray studies of the cosmos to date.

From 1997 to 2003, she oversaw work on the Propulsive Small Expendable Deployer System, or ProSEDS, an electromagnetic tether technology developed to provide electrical power or orbit adjustment for other Earth satellites. She held additional leadership roles at Marshall through 2006 -- overseeing next-generation vehicle and propulsion technology design, development and testing -- before taking her current position.

Ballance has received numerous awards during her NASA career, including a NASA Exceptional Service Medal in 2002 for her work on the ProSEDS tether development project, and a NASA Exceptional Achievement Medal in 2008 for support of multiple science missions. She was awarded a joint NASA patent in 2006 for development of an electrodynamic tether.

In her leisure time, she is an active quilter and a member and past president of the Heritage Quilters of Huntsville. She has worked closely with the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts of America through her church for many years.

For more information about the work of Marshall's Science & Mission Systems Office, visit:

For more information about the work of the Office of Diversity & Equal Opportunity, visit:

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