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 http://www.rnasa.org/tables.html to reserve your table for the RNASA Banquet, and for information about sponsorships and tickets. To reserve a hotel room, use http://www.rnasa.org/houston.html at the Houston Hyatt Regency.