AAS award recipients are recognized for significant achievements across  
the full spectrum of space science and exploration   

SPRINGFIELD, VA (February 17, 2021) – The American Astronautical Society (AAS) is pleased to announce the winners of its prestigious 2020 awards. AAS presents several annual awards bestowed for meritorious accomplishments during the previous year or not previously honored by AAS award recognition.

“AAS is excited to recognize these teams and individuals for their significant contributions and accomplishments,” said Jim Way, AAS Executive Director. “Each award recipient has made great strides in advancing space exploration and is incredibly deserving of these honors.”

The awards and winners for 2020 are as follows:  

  • Neil Armstrong Space Flight Achievement Award — Colonel (Retired) Douglas Hurley and Colonel Robert Behnkenfor their contributions to human spaceflight as the crew of the first test flight of the new crewed SpaceX Dragon. This historic flight marked the return of human spaceflight to American soil and ushered in a new era in America’s space program. 
  • Earth Science and Applications Award — Magnetospheric Multiscale Mission Team, for breakthrough instrumentation and spacecraft flight technology, mission navigation, and scientific research on magnetic reconnection, a fundamental process that controls space plasmas. 
  • Industrial Leadership Award — Benji ReedFor outstanding developments in human spaceflight across the U.S. space industry
  • Patti Grace Smith Award Marcello Romano, for his exceptional talent and dedication in mentoring young astronautical-engineering professionals to quickly become independent and prominent figures in Academia, US Government and Space Industry. (The Patti Grace Smith Award will be presented at the 2021 AAS Robert H. Goddard Memorial Symposium taking place May 4-6, online.)  
  • John F. Kennedy Astronautics Award — John J. McBrine, for promoting NASA’s Human Spaceflight Program through his leadership in the NASA Astronaut Appearances Office and far-reaching support of crew training and mission operations in Russia. 
  • Dirk Brouwer Award Maruthi Akella for seminal contributions to learning and adaptive control for spaceflight applications. (The Brouwer Award will be presented at the 2021 AAS/AIAA Astrodynamics Specialist Conference taking place in Big Sky, Montana, August 8-13.)
  • Carl Sagan Memorial Award — Leslie Livesay, for exceptional leadership of space missions that produced technological and scientific breakthroughs of major and lasting importance
  • Sally Ride Excellence in Education Award — Elizabeth Newtonfor re-imagining traditional higher education by radically transforming the OSU Battelle Center through expanding student’s potential creating a community based around a shared interest in space, connecting students from STEM, political science to medicine. (The Sally Ride Excellence in Education Award will be presented at the 2021 AAS Wernher von Braun Memorial Symposium taking place October in Huntsville, AL.)  
  • Space Technology Award — The OSIRIS-REx Team, for the extraordinary achievements of the OSIRIS-REx team in surveying and acquiring a sample of the asteroid Bennu over 200 million miles from earth, which will provide the science community key information in unlocking the origins of our universe(The Space Technology Award will be presented at the 2021 AAS Robert H. Goddard Memorial Symposium taking placeMay 4-6, online.)   
  • Space Flight Award — Kathryn Luedersfor exceptional leadership and significant contributions to the development of U.S. human spaceflight programs. 

Full awards information is available at astronautical.org/awards.  

About AAS  

The American Astronautical Society leads and advances the discussion around space. Since 1954, AAS has been the premier network of current and future space professionals dedicated to advancing all space activities. The Society has long been recognized for the excellence of its national symposia, technical conferences, and publications and for its impact on shaping the U.S. space program. AAS members have opportunities to meet and connect with leaders in the space industry to exchange information and ideas, discuss career aspirations, and expand their knowledge and expertise. astronautical.org