Chris D’Souza, J.R. Edwards, and Bill Gerstenmaier Announced
as Fellows of the American Astronautical Society
These three individuals are recognized for their significant scientific, engineering,
academic, and management contributions to astronautics and space.
The American Astronautical Society (AAS) is pleased to announce Chris D’Souza, J.R. Edwards and Bill Gerstenmaier have been elected as AAS Fellows in recognition of their outstanding contributions to astronautics.
Chris D’Souza began his career working alongside many of the founders of modern interplanetary navigation practice. After earning his PhD at the University of Texas in 1990, Chris went to work at the Wright Laboratory’s Armament Lab at Eglin AFB, making vast contributions to optimal control theory and its application to missile guidance. Later, Chris moved to Draper Labs, where he accomplished obtaining the exact solution for time-to-go in an optimal planetary landing guidance law, which was later used by the Apollo missions. In the late 2000’s Chris became a member of the Johnson Space Center’s advanced GNC groups. There, he’s made countless contributions to Orion’s guidance, navigation, and control. Currently, Chris is the leader of the Orion optical navigation system, a Government-only-developed hardware/software system responsible for providing the vehicle with autonomous navigation capabilities. Chris is also the deputy branch chief of the Autonomous Flight Systems Branch, which provides on-board targeting, navigation, and orbital guidance capabilities to JSC. Chris is internationally recognized as a leading expert in onboard spacecraft navigation systems and is the most respected navigation engineer at NASA. It is his countless spacecraft navigation contributions and achievements that makes him an AAS Fellow.
J.R. Edwards began his career at the Indiana University School of Business and the I.U. Center on Philanthropy. He is a business leader known for trailblazing ideation and operational excellence. Over his career he served as manager of human space flight programs based in Lockheed Martin’s Government Affairs office, corporate liaison to NASA Headquarters and U.S. Department of State, and a Director of the American Astronautical Society. He is one of AAS’ most supportive and valued corporate members. J.R. has continually increased his influence on important organizations and activities in the aerospace sector. It is his constant leadership, participation, and support that has made his value to customers and partners well beyond the scope of contracted work. He is credited with setting the vision and managing the Lockheed Martin’s model partnership with NASA via The Space Act Agreement, Strategic Alliance for Education and Public Outreach. It is J.R.’s continuous work, support, and leadership, along with his many achievements, that makes him an AAS Fellow.
William H. Gerstenmaier graduated from Purdue University’s School of Aeronautics and Astronautics in 1977, with a Bachelor of Science degree in Aeronautical Engineering. His NASA career began at the Lewis Research Center in Ohio (now the John Glenn Research Center), where he analyzed data from supersonic wind tunnels for applications to the re-entry of the Space Shuttle. In 1980, Bill joined the Johnson Space Center in Houston, where he worked on the Space Shuttle propulsion system, and the preliminary design states of the International Space Station. Bill served as the Deputy Manager and Manager of the International Space Station in 2000 and 2002 before being promoted to serve as NASA’s Associate Administrator of Human Exploration and Operations from 2005 until 2019. During his time there, Bill was considered by many as “the most influential person when it comes to U.S. spaceflight” being responsible for the majority of NASA’s budget, overseeing strategic planning, analysis, and investments in future human space flight, and ISS operations. It is Bills life-long contributions to human spaceflight and operations, along with his many achievements, that makes him an AAS Fellow.
New AAS Fellows are nominated each year by current AAS members and reviewed by a distinguished selection committee. The 2019 AAS Fellows will be receiving their plaques in March 2020 during the American Astronautical Society’s Robert H. Goddard Memorial Symposium in Silver Spring, Maryland or at the 2020 AAS/AIAA Astrodynamics Specialist Conference in South Lake Tahoe, California.