NASA accomplishments in aviation and aerospace were honored at Aviation Week and Space Technology’s 48th Annual Aerospace Laurels Awards. Laurel honorees were nominated by the editors of the aerospace magazine for “extraordinary individual and team accomplishments in the global aviation, aerospace and defense industries.”

The Laureates Hall of Fame Award in the space category went to a collaborative team that includes NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Pasadena, Calif.; Cornell University, Cornell, N.Y.; the aerospace industry; and the Mars Exploration Rover mission team “for its remarkable year investigating the Martian surface with Spirit and Opportunity.”

The Laureates Hall of Fame Award in Aeronautics/Propulsion went to Hyper-X program manager Vincent Rausch and engine developer Randall Voland, both of NASA’s Langley Research Center, Hampton, Va. The award also cited ATK GASL President Anthony Castrogiovanni, Tullahoma, Tenn., and the X-43 Hyper-X scramjet team “for their completion of the first two free flights of an operating scramjet engine integrated with a representative hypersonic airframe.”

Also recognized in the space category were the International Space Station’s Expedition 9 crew, astronaut Mike Fincke and cosmonaut Gennady Padalka, as well as the U.S. and Russian ground teams. They were cited for completing several never-before-accomplished tasks during their six-month mission on the Station in 2004. The Expedition 9 team helped NASA develop key capabilities that will aid future, longer-term exploration.

“We are proud that Mike and Gennady received national recognition for their accomplishments during Expedition 9. Their work was remarkable. In addition to performing four spacewalks, they demonstrated the kinds of repairs we may need to do on longer missions to the Moon and Mars, when our supply of spare parts will be limited,” said William Readdy, NASA’s Associate Administrator for Space Operations, Headquarters, Washington.

Dr. Charles Elachi, Director of JPL, was recognized for his leadership of the Mars Exploration Rover program and the Cassini mission team. Those teams are searching for signs of life on Mars and unveiling the mysteries of Saturn’s moon Titan, respectively.

The JPL and the Lockheed Martin Stardust team were honored for designing and guiding the Stardust spacecraft to within 140 miles of the nucleus of the comet Wild 2. Stardust, scheduled to return to Earth early in 2006, has collected the first comet dust.

“We indeed enjoyed a historic year in science exploration in 2004. In the months and years to come, we look forward to more developments in science that will advance our understanding of Earth and the worlds beyond,” said Al Diaz, NASA’s Associate Administrator for Science, Headquarters, Washington.

The magazine recognized the accomplishments of NASA’s Cassini spacecraft engineers and scientists. Following Cassini’s long journey to Saturn, the mission team carried out the highly successful June 30 orbit insertion and gathered close-up data.

The Synthetic Vision Systems (SVS) project was one of five teams named in the Information Technology/Electronics category. The award cited Daniel Baize, of Langley, and Tim Etherington, of Rockwell Collins’ Situation Awareness Information Systems, Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The project was recognized as “a government-industry-university research team, for bringing SVS and enhanced-vision avionics to an impressive level of functionality, significantly improving aircraft safety during reduced visibility flight conditions.”

“We are elated to see the hard work and extraordinary achievement of our NASA Aeronautics teams and individuals honored in this way. The X-43A team’s accomplishments speak to exciting breakthroughs in aviation in the future, and the Synthetic Vision project touches the public right now with increased flight safety,” said Dr. J. Victor Lebacqz, NASA’s Associate Administrator for Aeronautics Research, Headquarters, Washington.

The 2004 Laurel Legend winners were announced. From NASA, the list includes Max Faget, the late famed NASA spacecraft engineer. Also recognized were America’s first women astronauts — Sally Ride, Kathy Sullivan, Rhea Seddon, Anna Fisher, Shannon Lucid and the late Judith Resnick. Legend awards are given to previous Laurel winners or individuals chosen for contributions to the global field of aerospace over a period of years.

The complete list of winners can be found in the Feb. 21, 2005, issue of the magazine.

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