Although all of the faces on this year’s 10 Who Made a Difference in Space list are familiar to at least certain segments of the industry, two in particular might evoke a sense of déjà vu. That would be because they also made the list last year.
It might seem unimaginative and downright boring to recycle names from last year’s list, but the impact U.S. President Barack Obama and Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) Chief Executive Elon Musk have had in the last year is undeniable. The dominant story continues to be the president’s push to revamp the U.S. human spaceflight program, in part by outsourcing astronaut transportation to the private sector. Meanwhile, SpaceX, the poster child for Obama’s plan, gave it a huge dose of credibility with the successful debut of its Falcon 9 rocket in what perhaps was the most closely watched space industry event of 2010.
This does not mean the rest of the industry stood still over the past year: Key decisions were made, companies were transformed, an on-orbit emergency was resolved and an idea once relegated to the corners of the industry caught on in a big way. Some of the people who helped make it all happen are recognized here.