On the evening of April 29, shining stars in the space industry stepped out in their finest for the annual Rotary National Award for Space Achievement (RNASA) Foundation awards gala. With former CNN anchor Miles O’Brien as master of ceremonies, the evening celebrated the nominees, winners and industry as a whole.

RNASA was founded 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. Since 1989, the Foundation has presented the National Space Trophy to an outstanding individual who has made major contributions to our nation’s space program. NASA Administrator Charles Bolden presented this year’s National Space Trophy to Dr. Charles Elachi, former Director of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

RNASA also presents the Stellar awards to outstanding individuals in the industry in the Team and Early, Mid and Late career categories. Winners are selected by a Stellar Awards Evaluation Panel based on which accomplishments hold the greatest promise for furthering future activities in space, the extent to which the nominee played a key role in the accomplishment and the extent to which the nominee meets the goal of recognizing "unsung heroes." The 2016 awards Evaluation Panel consisted of former National Space Trophy winners Dr. Glynn S. Lunney, Arnold D. Aldrich, Colonel Eileen Collins, and Captain Michael Coats.

The Stellar Award winners each received engraved marble trophies generously sponsored by Orbital ATK. At the banquet, astronauts Stephanie Wilson and Rex Walheim announced the winners and presented trophies.

Orbital ATK is proud to have had a total of eight individual nominees and two team nominations with one team taking home an award this year. Congratulations to the OA-4 Return to Flight Team, who was recognized for their outstanding technical and management excellence in providing timely reinstatement of Cygnus Cargo Resupply Services to the International Space Station.

The list of all Orbital ATK nominees in their respective categories are as follows:

Orbital ATK had two nominees for Stellar Awards in the Early Career category, including:

  • Matthew Porter, recognized for his significant contributions in the advancement of controlled solid propulsion for the Orion Launch Abort Attitude Control Motor
  • Marcus Nelson, recognized for his demonstrated excellence as top design engineer for Orbital ATK NASA programs, resulting in optimization and cost reductions for Space Launch System (SLS) propellant testing

In the Mid-Career category, the following individuals were nominated:

  • Timothy Dominick, nominated for materials advancement enabling controllable solid propulsion for human space applications
  • Stuart Grover, was recognized for his demonstrated execution excellence in the development of material, processes and tools to facilitate the production of zero-defect hardware
  • Andrew Zarechnak, received his nomination for successfully leading the integration of Cygnus and the Atlas V as part of Orbital ATK’s return to flight plan

Orbital ATK had three nominees for Stellar Awards in the Late Career category, including:

  • Daniel Dunlap, nominated for his exceptional technical leadership of the Orion Launch Abort Attitude Control Motor and a lifetime of NASA program support
  • Garold Bates, was recognized for his voracious work ethic, extreme dedication and results-driven focus enabled successful static testing of SLS full-scale solid rocket boosters and other custom structural testing
  • David Hastman, nominated for managed the production of the Cygnus spacecraft since the Commercial Orbital Transportation System (COTS) program and successfully managed production efforts of the Antares Commercial Resupply Services return to flight program

Team Award nominations included:

  • STAR 48GXV Team, nominated for developing a next generation, high performance solid upper stage motor for space stage uses
  • OA-4 Return to Flight Team – recognized for their outstanding technical and management excellence in providing timely reinstatement of Cygnus Cargo Resupply Services to the International Space Station (Stellar Award Winner)

The full list of nominees and award winners can be found on RNASA’s website at http://www.rnasa.org/stellar.html. 


2016 Team Stellar Award Winners L to R: Rex Walheim (presenting), Andrew Zarechnak (OA-4 Return to Flight Team of Orbital ATK), Unidentified team member, Corey Duncan (Automated Navigation and Guidance Experiment for Local Space Program Team), Debbie Sharp (ISS Hardware Recovery Team), Carolyn Gernux (Fan/Pump/Separator Bearing Corrosion Anomaly Resolution Team), Yasmin Ali (Pendulum Team), Janine Cuevas (EFT-1/Orion Aerojet Rocketdyne Propulsion Team), Brian Jones (Orion EM-1 Critical Design Review Team), Stephanie Wilson (presenting) (NASA Photo, 2016)


Charles Bolden presents the National Space Trophy to Dr. Charles Elachi (NASA Photo, 2016)