By Mary Alys Cherry
The space community was out in force at the 28th annual Rotary Space Gala April 11 to toast NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, recipient of the 2014 National Space Trophy who spent many years as an astronaut at the Johnson Space Center before becoming a major general in the U.S. Marines and then being appointed to the space agency’s top post.
Kennedy Space Center Director and former JSC Deputy Director Robert D. Cabana presented the trophy. “There is no one more passionate about what we do and the need for us to be successful and remain a world leader,” Cabana said of Bolden, who said he was “honored and humbled” by the award.
“But, when I remind myself that this award is actually an affirmation of the incredible work done by the NASA family, both civil servants and contractors, over many decades now, I’m honored to accept it on behalf of each and every one of the members of our superb team,” Bolden said. “I’m blessed to be surrounded by the best leadership team in any organization anywhere.”
After RNASA Foundation Chairman Rodolfo González welcomed the crowd of more than 800 and CNN correspondent John Zarrella, the emcee, introduced Frank L. Culbertson, former astronaut and now Orbital Sciences senior vice president, the keynote speaker urged the aerospace community to enthusiastically support human spaceflight.
Veronica McGregor, last year’s winner of the Space Communicator Award, presented this year’s award to astronaut Chris Hadfield.
The husband and wife team of NASA astronauts Karen Nyberg and Douglas Hurley, presented the coveted Stellar Awards to honor those exceptional people behind the scenes “who go over and beyond what’s required,” as Hurley said.
Besides Bolden’s wife, Jackie, the massive crowd included JSC Director Dr. Ellen Ochoa and her husband, attorney Coe Miles; former KSC Director Bill Parsons, former Space Trophy winners Glynn Lunney, Tommy Holloway, Michael Griffin, Gene Kranz and their wives, plus George Abbey and Eileen Collins.
Other familiar faces included Rotary District Gov. Bob Gebhard, Sierra Nevada CEO Mark Sirangelo, Lockheed Martin VPs Richard Hibb and Cleo Lacefield, Boeing VP and GM John Elbon, Barrios President Sandra Johnson, Jacobs GM Lon Miller, Bastion Technologies CEO Jorge Hernandez, former United Space Alliance President Ginny Barnes, retired Boeing VP Brewster Shaw, and legislative candidate Sheryl Berg and congressional candidate Brian Babin.