Rotary Gala to honor heroes of space

April 12th, 2019

Mr. David Thompson, National Space Trophy Recipient (Orbital ATK Photo)

The Rotary National Award for Space Achievement Foundation will recognize people in the space industry at their annual space awards gala on Friday, April 26, at the Downtown Houston Hyatt Regency.

The evening begins with a reception at 6 p.m., and the program starts at 7 p.m. with a welcome by RNASA Chairman Rodolfo Gonzalez. The public is invited to attend.

The RNASA Foundation was formed by the Space Center Rotary Club in 1985, to publicly recognize the unsung heroes of America’s space program alongside the more well-known achievers. This year, the RNASA Foundation will present the 2019 National Space Trophy, to, retired Orbital ATK President and CEO of David W. Thompson.

Former NASA Astronaut Frank Culbertson will present the prestigious award to Thompson. Special guest speakers will include William Shatner, best known for his role as Capt. James Kirk, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, former Rotary International President Ron Burton and NASA Spokesperson Bob Jacobs.

Morgan Brennan, co-host of CNBC’s Squawk Alley, will serve as emcee and Gemini/Apollo astronaut Lt. Gen. Thomas Stafford, USAF (Ret.), will present an Omega watch to Thompson at the closing of the program.

The National Space Trophy honoree is selected each year by the RNASA Foundation’s Board of Advisors. This board represents a Who’s Who of government and corporate aerospace leaders, including former Trophy and Space Communicator Award recipients.

In addition to the National Space Trophy, stellar awards will be presented to people in early career, mid career, late career, and team categories. RNASA Chairman Rodolfo González said, “We received an impressive 140 stellar nominations this year, 36 government and 104 corporate.”

The nominations came from Aerie Aerospace, Aerojet Rocketdyne, ARES Corporation, The Boeing Company, Booz Allen Hamilton, CACI, Inc., Collins Aerospace, Jacobs, KBRWyle, Leidos, Lockheed Martin, MRI Technologies, Glenn Research Center, Goddard Space Flight Center, Johnson Space Center, Kennedy Space Center, Langley Research Center, Marshall Space Flight Center, Stennis Space Center, Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems, Oceaneering Space Systems, Raytheon Company, SAIC, Sierra Nevada Corporation, SpaceX, United Launch Alliance, and the U.S. Air Force.

Of all the nominations, only a few Stellar awards are given, and are announced the evening of the banquet. The winners will receive engraved marble trophies generously sponsored by Northrop Grumman. The trophies will be presented by NASA Astronauts Mark Vande Hei and Dr. Shannon Walker.

The RNASA Stellar Awards Evaluation Panel ranks the nominations received from industry and government in all categories, based on whose accomplishments hold the greatest promise for furthering activities in space and the extent to which the nominee meets the goal of recognizing “unsung heroes.” The 2019 Stellar judges are Michael Coats, Arnold Aldrich, Eileen Collins and Kevin Chilton.

The Stellar Award nominees and team representatives will enjoy a behind-the-scenes tour of the Johnson Space Center and a luncheon where all are recognized with mounted certificates and a Fisher Space Pen donated by the company. The Fisher Space Pen was originally carried by the astronauts of the Apollo moon missions and is still used on manned space flights to this day. They are precision assembled, hand tested, and guaranteed to perform underwater, at any angle including upside down, in extreme temperatures, and of course in zero gravity. The keynote speaker at the luncheon will be astronaut Scott Tingle.

The Stellar Awards Committee Chairman Jennifer Devolites, RNASA Foundation Chairman Rodolfo González, RNASA Committee member Duane Ross, and Space Center Rotary Club President Nancy Anderson will also address the nominees at the Stellar Awards luncheon.

Following the welcome will be a presentation of the colors by Clear Brook High School Army JROTC, accompanied with the national anthem sung by the Clear Creek High School Chamber Singers Solo Quartet. Rev. Tracye Ruffin, retired hospice chaplain, Disciples of Christ-Christian Church will provide the invocation. After dinner, the awards ceremony will kick off with a multimedia show summarizing the year’s space events produced by Space City Films.

The RNASA Foundation invites members of the public and the aerospace community to attend the black-tie event. Individual tickets are $300, and corporate tables range from $2,500 to $5,500. Please use to reserve your table for the RNASA Banquet, and for information about sponsorships and tickets. To reserve a hotel room, use at the Houston Hyatt Regency.

Vice President Mike Pence swears in Jim Bridenstine as NASA administrator

April 24th, 2018

Vice President Mike Pence, left, and NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine are seen as they talk with NASA astronauts Scott Tingle, Andrew Feustel, and Ricky Arnold who are onboard the International Space Station, Monday, April 23, 2018 at NASA Headquarters in Washington. Bridenstine was just sworn in by the Vice President as NASA’s 13th Administrator. Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

Jim Bridenstine officially took office as the 13th administrator of NASA April 23 after he was given the oath of office by Vice President Mike Pence at the agency’s headquarters in Washington.

“It is a great privilege for me to be here today, to be able to usher in on behalf of the President of the United States what we believe is a new chapter of renewed American leadership in space with the swearing-in of the newest administrator of NASA, Jim Bridenstine,” Vice President Pence said.

“Under Space Policy Directive 1, we will send American astronauts back to the Moon, and after that we will establish the capacity, with international and commercial partners, to send Americans to Mars. And NASA will lead the way.”

In his new role at NASA, Bridenstine takes over an agency critical to the nation’s economy, security and technological preeminence.

“NASA represents the best of the United States of America,” Bridenstine said. “We lead, we discover, we pioneer and we inspire. I look forward to our journey together.”

As part of the swearing-in ceremony, Vice President Pence and Administrator Bridenstine spoke live with NASA astronauts Scott Tingle, Drew Feustel and Ricky Arnold, who currently are living and working 250 miles above Earth aboard the International Space Station. The astronauts offered congratulations and shared stories of their experiences on the orbiting laboratory.

Following the ceremony, which was attended by Bridenstine’s family, employees and media, the vice president and new administrator held a meeting with senior agency leadership at headquarters and NASA’s centers via video teleconference.

“The appropriations bill that is now law renews focus on human spaceflight activities and expands our commercial and international partnerships. It also continues our pursuit of cutting-edge science and aeronautics breakthroughs,” Bridenstine told agency leadership.

Bridenstine was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on April 19, to serve as the agency’s administrator. Prior to this position, he served in the U.S. House of Representatives for the state of Oklahoma, where he held positions on the House Armed Services Committee and the Science, Space and Technology Committee. Bridenstine also is a pilot in the U.S. Navy Reserve and the former executive director of the Tulsa Air and Space Museum and Planetarium.

He completed a triple major at Rice University while earning his bachelor’s degree, and received his MBA at Cornell University. He has three children with his wife, Michelle.