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AFRL wins big at Rotary National Space Awards

Members of the Air Force Research Laboratory Space Vehicles Directorate’s Roll-Out Solar Array team was a Team Stellar Award winner at the 2018 Rotary National Award for Space Achievement.

Members of the Air Force Research Laboratory Space Vehicles Directorate’s Roll-Out Solar Array team was a Team Stellar Award winner at the 2018 Rotary National Award for Space Achievement. From left to right: Joy Stein, John Merrill, Kyle Montgomery, Dr. Jeremy Banik, Dr. Andrew Williams, Michael Peterson, Dr. Paul Hausgen and David Wilt.

Capt. Michael Nayak receives the 2018 Rotary National Award for Space Achievement Early Career Stellar Award from Dr. Peggy Whitson, NASA astronaut and holder of the U.S. record for time spent in space. Nayak is a planetary scientist and aerospace engineer at the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Air Force Maui Optical and Supercomputing site on Maui, Hawaii.

Capt. Michael Nayak receives the 2018 Rotary National Award for Space Achievement Early Career Stellar Award from Dr. Peggy Whitson, NASA astronaut and holder of the U.S. record for time spent in space. Nayak is a planetary scientist and aerospace engineer at the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Air Force Maui Optical and Supercomputing site on Maui, Hawaii.

Air Force Research Laboratory Space Vehicles Directorate physicist David Wilt, second from right, won a Late Career Stellar Award at the Rotary National Award for Space Achievement ceremony. Wilt is pictured with all of the Late Career Stellar award winners. The group is flanked by NASA astronauts Col. (ret) R. Shane Kimbrough and Dr. Peggy Whitson.

Air Force Research Laboratory Space Vehicles Directorate physicist David Wilt, second from right, won a Late Career Stellar Award at the Rotary National Award for Space Achievement ceremony. Wilt is pictured with all of the Late Career Stellar award winners. The group is flanked by NASA astronauts Col. (ret) R. Shane Kimbrough and Dr. Peggy Whitson.

KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. --

Air Force Research Laboratory scientists and engineers from the AFRL Space Vehicles and Directed Energy Directorates were big winners at the recent 2018 Rotary National Award for Space Achievement awards presentation. 

AFRL winners of the Rotary’s Stellar Awards are below. These awards recognize heroes of the American space program as teams and as individuals in all stages of their careers. Winners are selected based on which accomplishments hold the greatest promise for furthering future activities in space.

Dr. John Burke: Early Career Stellar Award Winner.  For his contributions to developing new capabilities that significantly enhance navigation performance, both with and without GPS.

Capt. Michael Nayak: Early Career Stellar Award Winner.  For development of a new dynamical method to analyze planetary surfaces across the solar system, and an order of magnitude drop in warning time for hostile space actions using an automated four-telescope system.

Dr. Lawrence "Robbie" M. Robertson: Mid-Career Stellar Award Winner.  For his contributions to developing new capabilities that significantly enhance navigation performance of guidance, navigation and control.

David M. Wilt: Late Career Stellar Award Winner. Wilt has applied 31 years of creative research at both NASA and the Air Force Research Laboratory to advancing space power generation systems to higher, more robust performance levels to maximize end-of-life power.

Roll-Out Solar Array (ROSA) Team: Team Stellar Award Winner. Government team members: Dr. David Chapman, Dr. Jeremy Banik, Joy Stein, Dr. Bernie Carpenter, Dr. Paul Hausgen, Michael Peterson, Capt. Nathan Gapp, Dr. Andrew Williams, and John Merrill.  AFRL in-house contractor team members: Jeff Brumfield, Cody Griffee, Greg Sanford, Joe Footdale, Sonny Jeon, Carter Sanford, all from LoadPath. The Roll-out Solar Array Team developed a game-changing, mission enabling satellite solar array and fully proved it through space flight on a 100 percent successful experiment on the International Space Station.

Rotary Stellar Award nominations receive a review by a distinguished panel. This year, the panel included Dr. Glynn Lunney (former associate administrator, NASA), Arnold Aldrich (former associate administrator, NASA), Eileen Collins (retired astronaut), Michael Coats (retired astronaut, former NASA center director) and Gen. Kevin Chilton (retired astronaut and former Commander, Air Force Space Command).  The winners were recognized at the Rotary National Award for Space Achievement Foundation’s Stellar Award ceremony held on Apr. 27 in Houston, Texas.

See a portion of the ceremony on YouTube at