Highlights from #spaceprom

Last night was the 57th annual National Space Club Goddard Memorial Dinner, a celebration of the first successful flight by Dr. Goddard of a liquid-fuelled rocket, otherwise known as #spaceprom. A few highlights from the evening*:

The keynote speaker was Emily Briere, a student at Duke University and winner of the Goddard Memorial Dinner Keynote Scholarship. Her passion for space and desire to see a manned mission to Mars resonated well with the Twitter-crowd. Alas, we got only one semi-complete quote from her speech (hint, hint, Emily!), transcribed by Dennis Bonilla: “Maybe we don’t have to grow up... to define our future.” Later in the night, two other students were awarded scholarship: Michael Lotto for his research on EVA suits, and Moira Miller for her time as a NASA Goddard intern.

Up next was Kepler principal investigator William Borucki, accepting the Robert H. Goddard Memorial Trophy on behalf of the Kepler team. During his speech, the Kepler Twitter staff teased that if half of all the stars you wish on are binary systems, your wishes are amplified. Borucki pointed out that with the richness of planetary data uncovered by Kepler, if you can imagine a planet, it exists. Kepler even posed a challenge-question to everyone following along at home. This also marked pretty much the end of social media excitement for the evening, as the other award-winners didn't inspire typing mid-event. We're left to imagine that as the Twitter feed fell silent, a horde of well-dressed space-geeks enjoyed their night out.


We can piece together the rest of the night from the Awards list, and rare tidbits in other media venues:

The NOAA - David Johnson Award went to Dr. Craig Ferguson, a researcher at the Atmospheric Sciences Research Center at SUNY Albany, for addressing a "vexing" issue in climate models: land-atmosphere coupling states. The Space Educator award went to Brian Grigsby at Shasta High School in Redding, California, for inspiring his students. (If you peek at this article interviewing him, I'm betting the robots have a lot to do with him receiving the award. Ooooh, robots!). The Press Award was split between two CBS newsmen, William Harwood, Space Reporter, and Walter Cronkite, former Anchorman.

NASA's EVA team 23 collected the Eagle Manned Mission Award for "their ability to recognize hazards, analyze a situation, and recommend appropriate actions while under the immense pressure of a human spaceflight emergency." (No editorializing from me on that one; anyone who can make space less deadly is impressive.) In the last of the group awards, the X-51A WaveRider Team's accomplishment with an unmanned autonomous flight demonstrator that broke the hypersonic barrier was recognized with the Nelson P. Jackson Aerospace Award.

Moving down the list, the remaining awards were given to leaders of teams: Lieutenant Colonel Samuel Little for leading his squad in a bunch of work with satellites, including working on GPS III pathfinders, Dr. Adam Steltzner for leading his team to getting our beloved Curiosity Rover safely on Mars, and Dr. Darrell Zimbelman for project management in reactivating an intelligence program after a multi-year hiatus.


* Very few, and very highlighted, as I wasn't in attendance, nor was press, and the only photos from the event are cellphone-selfies!

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