Apollo astronaut Eugene A. Cernan will present a National Space Trophy to recently retired Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison at the Rotary National Award for Space Achievement Foundation’s annual gala at the Houston Hyatt Regency, Friday, April 26.
“Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison is certainly one of the most deserving of those who have ever received the Rotary National Space Trophy,” Cernan said. He was honored with the award in 2008 and now serves on the RNASA Foundation’s Board of Advisors. “Throughout her career in the U.S. Senate, she has been a devoted and passionate supporter of our nation’s space program.”
Hutchison was nominated by Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company Executive Vice President Joanne Maguire as a “long standing champion of NASA and DoD space programs,” citing her advocacy of the three-year 2010 NASA Authorization Act, the International Space Station Program, the Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle, the Space Launch System, and commercial space transportation.
Cernan added, “Senator Hutchison continues to be a strong advocate, in hopes of America regaining our preeminence in the world, thus inspiring the dreamers of tomorrow. I am sincerely honored to have the opportunity to introduce a dear friend, one whom I admire and respect, Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, at the 2013 Rotary National Award for Space Achievement.”
Cernan was born in Chicago, Illinois, and will be 79 this March. He earned a BS in electrical engineering from Purdue in 1956 and a MS in aeronautical engineering in 1963 from the U. S. Naval Post Graduate School in Monterey, California. Cernan was one of fourteen astronauts selected by NASA in 1963. As the pilot of Gemini 9 in 1966, Cernan became the second American to walk in space. He was lunar module pilot of Apollo 10 that came within eight miles of the lunar surface in May 1969. In December 1972, he commanded Apollo 17—the last mission to the Moon in the 20th century. Cernan left the Navy and NASA in 1976 and served as Executive Vice President, International, and Director of Coral Petroleum until 1981. His autobiography, The Last Man on the Moon, was published in 1999. Cernan resides with his wife Jan Nanna Cernan in Houston, Texas. They have three daughters and nine grandchildren.
The RNASA event will also honor Veronica McGregor, manager of news and social media at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, with a Space Communicator Award. RNASA Advisor, former Space Communicator Award recipient, and PBS NewsHour Science Correspondent, Miles O’Brien, will present the award to McGregor.
The Foundation is also pleased to announce that Houston Mayor Annise Parker will welcome attendees to the black-tie event. Chief Executive Officer of the Space Foundation, RNASA Advisor, and former Space Communicator Award winner, Elliot Pulham, will serve as emcee.
Pianist Victoria Reva-Dorsch will perform during the reception. Dr. David Fannin, Pastor, Nassau Bay Baptist Church, will perform the invocation. The Colors will be presented by an all-female Color Guard from Clear Springs High School JROTC. The cadets are: Eryn Behne, Amber Carter, Erial Marshall, and Deanna McFeron.
Nominations for Stellar Awards are currently being reviewed by a Stellar Awards Evaluation Panel consisting of Dr. Christopher C. Kraft Jr., Dr. Glynn S. Lunney, Arnold D. Aldrich, and new this year, Gen. Kevin Chilton, USAF (Ret.). Winners in four categories will be announced at the event.
Following the award presentations, Cernan’s Apollo 10 Commander, Lt. Gen. Thomas Stafford, USAF (Ret.) will present an OMEGA watch to Senator Hutchison.
RNASA Foundation Chairman Rodolfo González said, “We’re very thankful for the participation of so many outstanding individuals in our program, as well as the volunteers from the Space Center Rotary Club and the continued support of our corporate sponsors who all play a critical role in honoring U.S. space achievements.”
Eagle Engineering is sponsoring space artist Pat Rawlings to paint the National Space Trophy winner’s portrait which will be displayed at Space Center Houston and appear on the cover of the souvenir program. Companies interested in sponsoring tables or individuals interested in tickets should contact RNASA Vice Chairman Bill Taylor at firstname.lastname@example.org. The deadline for reserving space in the souvenir program is March 8, and the deadline for reserving tables or tickets is March 29, 2013.
More information, a longer biography of Capt. Cernan, photos, and updates to the agenda for the gala, please visit the RNASA website: www.rnasa.org.