Since the beginning, the SpaceNews Awards have honored the well-known champions as well as the unsung heroes shaping the global space industry for the better. We endeavor to celebrate headline-grabbing breakthroughs as well as outside-the-limelight innovations.  

For the 2023 Icon Awards, the SpaceNews editorial team chose two long-serving individuals, an annual conference that predates SpaceNews itself by two years, and a relativity new organization that fosters government and industry collaboration to protect satellite infrastructure from hackers.

We’re thrilled to reveal the finalists for the Unsung Hero award, and we invite you to join us on Tuesday, Dec. 5, during the SpaceNews 2023 Icon Awards event at the InterContinental Washington D.C. – The Wharf, where we’ll unveil the winner.

Tickets are on sale now, with early bird pricing available until Nov. 8. Stay tuned as we spotlight the honorees for the other award categories in the days ahead.

Let’s take a closer look at this year’s honorees, one of which will be named 2023’s Unsung Hero:

Space ISAC

The Space ISAC was established in 2019 by aerospace, information technology and space companies to improve cybersecurity. The nonprofit facilitates collaboration among companies and government agencies in identifying and responding to physical and cyber threats to spacecraft and terrestrial infrastructure. At the Space ISAC Operational Watch Center in Colorado Springs, analysts monitor space-related data to detect anomalies.

Utah State University’s Conference on Small Satellites

Now entering its 38th year, this annual gathering on Utah State University’s Logan campus has evolved from its academic and civil space focus to a must-attend commercial space trade show and conference. Without losing its collegiate appeal or pulling up its academic roots, the SmallSat conference continues to exhibit student posters and award college scholarships.

Jeffrey Manber, Nanoracks

Manber has been a pioneer in commercial space activities since his work with Russian space companies in the 1990s as they navigated the transition from Soviet-era control. He later founded Nanoracks, which became one of the first companies to make commercial use of the International Space Station, from launching cubesats to developing the Bishop airlock. The company is now at the forefront of efforts to develop commercial space stations to succeed the ISS. Manber received NASA’s 2023 Distinguished Public Service Medal.

Marcia Smith,

With more than four decades of experience in space policy, Smith is an indispensable resource of clear and concise news, information and analysis about U.S. civil, commercial and military space programs. Smith, a founding member and past president of Women in Aerospace, spent 31 years working at the Congressional Research Service and three at the National Academies’ Space Studies and Aeronautics and Space Engineering Boards. A fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics and a fellow of the American Astronautical Society, Smith is the founder and editor of SpacePolicyOnline and editor of the quarterly journal, Space Policy.

Stay tuned for more updates as we spotlight the honorees for the other award categories in the days ahead.