The Rotary National Award for Space Achievement (RNASA) Foundation awarded the 2015 National Space Trophy to Colonel Robert D. Cabana, director of NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, former NASA astronaut on four space shuttle missions, and retired United States Marine Corps Colonel. The award was made during the 29th National Space Trophy gala on April 24 at the Hyatt Regency in Houston, Texas 

The National Space Trophy is presented annually to an outstanding American who has made major contributions to our nation’s space program. Nominations are voted upon by the RNASA Foundation’s Board of Advisors that includes a who’s who list of individuals intimately involved with the space program, including NASA center directors, presidents of aerospace corporations, military, news media, academic and political leaders, and previous Trophy winners.

Previous National Space Trophy winners include NASA Administrator Charles F. Bolden, President George H.W. Bush and Neil A. Armstrong.

Rodolfo González, President of the RNASA Foundation said, “The Foundation is overwhelmed with the number of nominators that came forward with a submittal for Col. Cabana. We are pleased the board of advisors’ selected him.” 

Cabana was nominated by Dr. Ellen Ochoa, director, NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston, Michael L. Coats, former director, NASA Johnson Space Center, Rick Hieb, vice president of Lockheed Martin Civil Programs, John Zarella, Elliot Holokauahi Pulham, chief executive officer of Space Foundation, and Dr. Michael D. Griffin, former NASA administrator, and chairman and chief executive officer (CEO), Schafer Corporation, “for his exceptional leadership and executive guidance in leading the evolution of the NASA Kennedy Space Center as the world’s premier multi-user spaceport in support of NASA’s exploration goals.”

Cabana said, “I am extremely honored to receive the National Space Trophy. The previous awardees are my heroes, and it means so much to me that the board considered me worthy to be among them.” 

Cabana is serving as the tenth director of Kennedy, the primary United States launch site that has been used for every NASA human spaceflight since 1968. In this role, Cabana manages all NASA facilities and activities at Kennedy, leading a team of civil service and contractor personnel who operate and support numerous space programs and projects. He has been instrumental in ensuring the successful transition from the space shuttle and establishing the center as a true multi-user spaceport of the future. 

Cabana was inducted into the Astronaut Hall of Fame in 2008. He is the recipient of The Daughters of the American Revolution Award for the top Marine to complete naval flight training in 1976, is a Distinguished Graduate of the United States Naval Test Pilot School, and has logged over 7,000 hours in 50 different kinds of aircraft.

Cabana is a Fellow in the Society of Experimental Test Pilots, an Associate Fellow in the AIAA, and has received numerous awards and decorations, including the De La Vaulx medal by the Federation Aeronautique Internationale in 1994, the Presidential Distinguished Rank Award, and most recently he was honored with the National Space Club 2013 Dr. Kurt H. Debus Award. 

His personal decorations include the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal, the National Intelligence Medal of Achievement, two NASA Distinguished Service Medals, two NASA Medals for Outstanding Leadership, two NASA Exceptional Service Medals, and four NASA Space Flight Medals.

A veteran of four spaceflights, Cabana has logged over 910 hours in space. He served as pilot on STS-41 (October 6-10, 1990) and STS-53 (December 2-9, 1992), and was commander on STS-65 (July 8-23, 1994) and STS-88 (December 4-15, 1998), the first International Space Station assembly mission.

The Rotary National Award for Space Achievement (RNASA) Foundation was founded by the Space Center Rotary Club of Houston, Texas in 1985 to organize and coordinate an annual event to recognize outstanding achievements in space and create greater public awareness of the benefits of space exploration. The nonprofit Foundation presents the National Space Trophy and Stellar Awards each year. 

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